Jeffrey Hahn, Asst. Extension Entomologist
There have been several reports of people seeing giant swallowtails, Papilio cresphontes, in the Twin Cities areas recently (they undoubtedly have been seen in other areas of Minnesota as well). This is noteworthy as these spectacular butterflies are not native to Minnesota but can occasionally be found during the summer as migrants from the south.
You can recognize a giant swallowtail because of its size, its wingspan ranges from 4" - 5 ½", and its black wings with yellow spots; the yellow spots on the forewings form an 'x'. Don't confuse it with a black swallowtail which also has black wings but is smaller, its wingspan is as large as 3 ½" and the yellow spots on its forewings are parallel and do not cross. Giant swallowtails can not reproduce in Minnesota as they need citrus trees and related plants for food for the larvae.