August 20: Giant Swallowtail with Thistle

Giant Swallowtail with Thistle Jacqueline Verdun

Giant Swallowtail with Thistle by Jacqueline Verdun

I’ve been saving this photo for 6 years apparently!! Way back in 2015 the Ann Arbor Observer had a feature titled The Biggest Butterfly: Seeking Giant Swallowtails that said in part:

The aptly named giant swallowtail is the biggest butterfly in Michigan.

Form your two index fingers into pointers and touch them to each other: if you take a large glove size, the butterfly’s maximum wingspan is approximately the length of both fingers put together. The field guides say around six inches.

The giant swallowtail’s coloration is as spectacular as its size. From the top, its wings look dark brown to black, with yellow dot ribboning and a yellow eye-shaped spot on the end of each wing. When the wings are raised, the bottom is revealed to be a subtle cream interrupted by wavy blue and rust bands.

Ronda Spink, coordinator of the Michigan Butterfly Network (michiganbutterfly.org), says she sees more and more of these butterflies each year. This species spends its Michigan winter in the pupa stage and emerges in two broods each summer, the first in May through June, the second in July through early September.

Read on for more including tips on the best time of day to see them!

Jacqueline took this gorgeous photo on August 20, 2014. You can check out another shot she took of this butterfly right here & see more in her Macro Insects etc gallery.

More Michigan butterflies on Michigan in Pictures.

Support Michigan in Pictures with Patreon