4-5 inches in wingspread. Up and up goes this great butterfly into the sky and down again, swooping. It can travel as fast as a horse can run, leaving the boy or girl with the butterfly net panting and disgusted far behind, but it may also hover delicately over a lovely flower and then drop down among the velvet petals to sip deeply of the delicious nectar, forgetting for a few moments its danger. Then, suddenly, the collector may swoop his net upon this largest of all North American butterflies and have a real prize!
This Giant Swallowtail is found over most of the eastern half of the United States but is rare in the more northern states. Wherever it goes it brings forth cries of “ooh! and ah!” from those who see its gigantic black, yellow and red spotted beauty hovering above them, for, in flight, it appears even more enormous than it is in reality. Its great strength, speed and dodging ability allow it to escape easily from most birds.
Why the caterpillar is called the “Orange Dog” may be hard to understand at first, for it is mainly dark brown in color with white and creamy markings, one forming a broad saddle over the middle of the body. But apparently, the name comes from the orange-colored scent horns that rise from the head and give off a strong odor. It feels mainly on citrus trees, but also the Prickly Ash, the Hop Tree, and the Gas Plant. There are usually two broods of these caterpillars in the north and three in the south.