Subject: Insect I.D.
Location: Southern Utah
March 31, 2015 12:38 pm
Cocoon found under lid of unused garbage can…..I carefully protected and waited to see what came out. Cocoon was gray/black and I expected a moth with little color. What a surprise! Appears to be big Swallowtail Moth, 4-5 inches tip to tip. I can’t find anything exactly like it searching the Web.
I don’t know if this critter is kind of rare down here – Ivins, Utah.
Signature: Kent P.
This Two Tailed Swallowtail, Papilio multicaudatus, is a butterfly, not a moth. According to the Utah Bug Club: “Two Tailed Swallowtail butterflies are large and gorgeous and can occasioanlly be found patrolling neighborhoods that have ash trees (Fraxinus pennsylvanica) growing along the street. These same ash trees serve as the larval host plant for this butterfly. Adults appear on the wing from mid-May through July with a few fresh adults appearing for a small second flight in September. Although finding adults of the Two-Tailed Swallowtail is somewhat inconsistent in our cities, males can usually be found with much more regularity cruising our canyons and ravines in May and June. Caterpillars can be found on choke cherry (Prunus virginiana) from June through August in the mountains.” BugGuide provides this information: “Trivia: This is probably the largest species of Butterfly in North America, with spread specimens sometimes pushing 6 inches in wingspan. However, the Giant Swallowtail – Papilio cresphontes (which definitely averages smaller) is consistently listed as the largest species, and indeed some females of that species can reach very large proportions as well. Occasionally nearly as large is also the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail – Papilio glaucus. So, on an average, everyday basis, P. multicaudatus is largest, but as for the largest specimen recorded, it is probably an open contest.” By all accounts, this is a early sighting.