Butterflies of North Carolina:
their Distribution and Abundance

Common Name begins with:
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Scientific Name begins with:
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Once on a species account page, clicking on the "View PDF" link will show the flight data for that species, for each of the three regions of the state.
Other information, such as high counts and earliest/latest dates, can also been seen on the PDF page.

Related Species in PAPILIONIDAE:
comNameEastern Giant Swallowtail by Doug Johnston => 08/30/10 ? Buncombe County, NC
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[Google Images]     BoA [Images ]
sciNamePapilio cresphontes
Link to BAMONA species account.
mapClick on a county for list of all database records for the species in that county.
distributionDISTRIBUTION: Mainly coastal, near maritime forests and thickets. However, also likely to be resident in the Brushy Mountains, the New River area in Ashe/Alleghany counties, and in a few other foothill and mountain counties. Certainly a migrant/stray in the heavily surveyed central and eastern Piedmont counties (except for a seemingly accidental breeding record in Asheboro in 2017), and might well be a migrant/stray in some mountain areas.
abundanceABUNDANCE: Uncommon and local along the coast, in and adjacent to extensive maritime forests and thickets, probably most numerous on Bald Head Island. Very rare and local away from the coast as a resident in the foothills and low mountains, and extremely rare to very rare as a migrant (nearly all of the Piedmont and the Coastal Plain away from tidal water).
flightFLIGHT PERIOD: Two broods, with the assumption that the second is much longer than the first (and not composed of two run-together broods). The first brood is relatively small (as compared with the second); it occurs from mid-April to late May near the coast, and throughout May to early June well inland. The primary flight occurs near the coast from early or mid-June to early October, with numbers peaking in July and August; in the foothills and mountains it occurs from mid-July to late September, and sparingly into October. However, much more data are needed to define the flight periods away from the coast.
habitatHABITAT: Along the coast, seen mainly in or near maritime forests or thickets, especially extensive, high-quality forests with prickly-ash (Xanthoxylum clava-herculis). In the Brushy Mountains and in Caldwell County, seen in upland forests with hoptree (Ptelea trifoliata). Seen along the New River in Ashe and Alleghany counties, where hoptree grows in places along this river. Migrants could be seen in most any habitat, though most are seen in gardens and arboretums.
plantsFOOD AND NECTAR PLANTS: The foodplants are always in the rue family (Rutaceae); in NC, prickly-ash along the coast and hoptree at scattered inland sites (over mafic soil). However, in some areas, at least inland such as in Buncombe County, non-native species in this family might be used as foodplants, as the native hoptree is quite rare in most of the region. The species nectars frequently, almost always with wings rapidly flapping.
commentsCOMMENTS: It is no surprise that this is a scarce butterfly in NC. Prickly-ash is only found in scattered maritime forests along the coast, and hoptree is a rare to occasional shrub inland, both in rocky uplands and in rich woods and streambanks. It is expected that other colonies will be found in the Brushy Mountains, where hoptree is present in moderate numbers. A small colony was discovered on a mountain, apparently part of the Brushy Mountain range, in Caldwell County in May 2007. There were a number of records in several areas of Buncombe County in 2010, suggesting that small breeding populations are present in lower elevations in that mountain county. Hoptree may be numerous enough in a few other places, such as Chimney Rock, that other colonies can be intentionally searched for. Bald Head Island might be your best bet for seeing this spectacular butterfly in NC, but Ocracoke Island and other coastal sites might be more accessible. In 2013, several observers found Giant Swallowtails in double digits in a single day, along the northern portion of the Outer Banks, including 20 at the Pine Island Audubon Sanctuary in late July.
state_statusSR - S2S3
synonymHeraclides cresphontes
other_nameGiant Swallowtail, Orange Dog

Links to other butterfly galleries: [Cook] [Lynch] [Pippen] [Pugh]
Photo Gallery for Eastern Giant Swallowtail
Photo by: Sean McElhone
Comment: Hammocks Beach State Park, 2004-05-01
Eastern Giant Swallowtail - Click to enlarge
Photo by: Jeff Pippen
Comment: New Hanover Co., NC 27 Aug 2005
Eastern Giant Swallowtail - Click to enlarge
Photo by: Mike Papay
Comment: 2008 - on container grown citrus in Wake Co.
Eastern Giant Swallowtail - Click to enlarge
Photo by: Mike Papay
Comment: 2008 - on container grown citrus in Wake Co.
Eastern Giant Swallowtail - Click to enlarge
Photo by: Keith Endres
Comment: 2008 - on container grown citrus in Wake Co.
Eastern Giant Swallowtail - Click to enlarge
Photo by: Randy Newman
Comment: Fort Macon State Park
Eastern Giant Swallowtail - Click to enlarge