Description: 3/8-5 1/2" (86-140 mm). Very large. Long, dark, spoon-shaped tails have yellow center. Dark brownish-black above with 2 broad bands of yellow spots converging at tip of FW. Orange spot at corner of HW flanked by blue spot above; both recur below, but blue continuing in chevrons across underwing, which also has orange patch. Otherwise, yellow below with black veins and borders. Abdomen yellow with broad black midline tapering at tip; notch on top of abdomen near rear. Thorax has yellow lengthwise spots or stripes. This is considered to be America’s largest butterfly
Giant Swallowtail caterpillars feed primarily on citrus plants, prickly ash, and hoptrees. They are known as Orange Dogs to citrus farmers because of their destructive capabilities.
The caterpillar has two effective adaptations for defense against birds. The first is a reddish osmeterium that is extended when the insect is provoked, releasing foul-smelling pheromones thought to deter birds. The larva are also camouflaged to resemble bird droppings and are sometimes called Dirty Dogs.