Identification, Images, & Information
For Insects, Spiders & Their Kin
For the United States & Canada
Clickable Guide
Moths Butterflies Flies Caterpillars Flies Dragonflies Flies Mantids Cockroaches Bees and Wasps Walkingsticks Earwigs Ants Termites Hoppers and Kin Hoppers and Kin Beetles True Bugs Fleas Grasshoppers and Kin Ticks Spiders Scorpions Centipedes Millipedes

Upcoming Events

Discussion, insects and people from the 2018 BugGuide Gathering in Virginia, July 27-29

Photos of insects and people from the 2015 gathering in Wisconsin, July 10-12

Photos of insects and people from the 2014 gathering in Virginia, June 4-7.

Photos of insects and people from the 2013 gathering in Arizona, July 25-28

Photos of insects and people from the 2012 gathering in Alabama

Photos of insects and people from the 2011 gathering in Iowa

Photos from the 2010 Workshop in Grinnell, Iowa

Photos from the 2009 gathering in Washington


Species Papilio multicaudata - Two-tailed Swallowtail - Hodges#4178

Two-Tailed Swallowtail - Papilio multicaudata - male Two-tailed Swallowtail Caterpillar? - Papilio multicaudata Backyard Caterpillar - Papilio multicaudata Probable Two-tailed Swallowtail - Papilio multicaudata - male Two-tailed Swallowtail Butterfly (Arizona State Butterfly) - Papilio multicaudata - male Two-tailed swallowtail? Request professional confirmation - Papilio multicaudata Papilio multicaudatus - Two-tailed Swallowtail - Papilio multicaudata - female Papilio multicaudatus caterpillar  - Papilio multicaudata
Show images of: caterpillars · adults · both
Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Lepidoptera (Butterflies and Moths)
Superfamily Papilionoidea (Butterflies and Skippers)
Family Papilionidae (Swallowtails, Parnassians)
Subfamily Papilioninae
Tribe Papilionini (Fluted Swallowtails)
Genus Papilio
Species multicaudata (Two-tailed Swallowtail - Hodges#4178)
Hodges Number
Explanation of Names
Papilio multicaudata W. F. Kirby, 1884
multicaudata (L). "many-tailed"
Wing span: 3 1/2 - 5 inches (9 - 12.7 cm) - BAMONA
Upper surface of male forewing with narrow black stripes. Each hindwing has 2 tails.(1) If abdomen is visible, male claspers are obvious as a yellow segment at the tip, beyond the black stripe (see below).

Females often have broader black stripes, and more blue on the upperside (see below).

Caterpillars resemble those of Eastern Tiger Swallowtail.
w NA (CA-TX-ND-BC) / Mex. - Map (MPG)
Foothill slopes and canyons, moist valleys, streamsides, woodlands, parks, roadsides, suburbs, and cities. - BAMONA
mostly: Mar-Sept - MPG
Caterpillar hosts: Leaves of ash (Fraxinus), hop tree (Ptelea), and chokecherry (Prunus).
Adult food: Nectar from thistles, milkweeds, California buckeye, lilac, and many others. - BAMONA
Life Cycle
Males patrol stream courses or city streets for receptive females. Eggs are laid singly on leaves of host plant. Caterpillars eat leaves and rest on silken mats in shelters of curled leaves. Chrysalids hibernate.(1)
Trivia: This is probably the largest species of Butterfly in North America, with spread specimens sometimes pushing 6 inches in wingspan. However, the Giant Swallowtail - Papilio cresphontes (which definitely averages smaller) is consistently listed as the largest species, and indeed some females of that species can reach very large proportions as well. Occasionally nearly as large is also the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail - Papilio glaucus. So, on an average, everyday basis, P. multicaudatus is largest, but as for the largest specimen recorded, it is probably an open contest. [note added September 22, 2013 by David J. Ferguson]
Internet References