Zebra SWALLOWTAIL AND GIANT swallowtail

Zebra Swallowtails have the longest tails of any swallowtail in our area. They belong to the family of kite swallowtails. This species is widespread but somewhat uncommon in our area. They typically fly from April through August. 

This Zebra Swallowtail is slightly more worn than the one above. It was basking in the morning sun, near a wooded path in Sugarcreek MetroPark. 

Ventral view of a Zebra Swallowtail puddling at wet sand. I photographed this butterfly at Sebald Park (part of Elk Creek MetroPark in Butler County). Zebra Swallowtails use pawpaws as their host plant, so these butterflies are often found in woods near streams and creeks. 

Giant Swallowtails are our largest butterfly in terms of overall wing surface area. They are a somewhat uncommon species; I have found them in several locations but never in great abundance. The individual at left lost one of its tails, possibly due to a bird attack. This Giant Swallowtail was basking in the sun on a summer day, when the weather had turned unusually cool (which made the butterfly sluggish and easier to photograph).

Ventral view of a Giant Swallowtail nectaring on sunflowers at Huffman Prairie.  Huffman Prairie is one of the best places in our area to find Giant Swallowtails. These beautiful, enormous butterflies fly from late April through mid-September.

Ventral view of a Giant Swallowtail nectaring on a thistle at Germantown MetroPark. Giant Swallowtails have a great deal of yellow on the undersurface of their wings (more so than other swallowtails), and they also have a distinctive yellow spot on their tails. 

This Zebra Swallowtail is enjoying nectar from a butterfly bush (buddleia). Zebra Swallowtails are large and graceful, and they look better suited to the tropics than to Dayton, Ohio. My first sight of a Zebra Swallowtail was the "spark" that got me interested in butterflies.