This dark brown and yellow butterfly can be easily identified without the aid of a pair of binoculars. The topside of its wings are dark and marked with bands of yellow spots. These bands for an X near the tips of the wings. The longest band extends from wing tip to wing tip. In comparison, when seen from below, the wings appear predominantly yellow.
The giant swallowtail’s characteristic pattern of flight can also help in identifying this large, colorful butterfly. The butterfly alternately flaps its wings and then glides. In addition, when the giant swallowtail is feeding at flowers it constantly flutters its wings.
Although it is possible to spot a giant swallowtail anywhere in the state, those folks that live south of the fall line have the best chance of seeing it. However, during the summer giant swallowtails might show up in backyards just about anywhere.
The host plants used by the giant swallowtail include wafer ash, prickly ash, trifoliate orange, and Hercules club.