Skip Navigation

Species Search:
FieldGuidesthreatened and/or endangered search resultsthreatened and/or endangered

previous  | next

Two-tailed Swallowtail Papilio multicaudata


enlarge +

Two-tailed Swallowtail
credit: Jay Wiliams/CCSA

All Images


Get Our Newsletters


Advanced Search

Family: Papilionidae, Swallowtails view all from this family

Description he Two-tailed Swallowtail (Papilio multicaudata) is a species of the Papilionidae family found in western North America from British Columbia to Central America.

Its appearance is similar to the Giant Swallowtail, Western, and Eastern Tiger Swallowtails, but has thinner and fewer black stripes on the wings and the hind wing has two tails. The Two-tailed Swallowtail has distinctive yellow wings with a black tiger striping. Each hindwing has several blue markings (top and bottom). The eyespots can fool predators into attacking the rear of the butterfly instead of the head, giving the butterfly a chance to escape. The wingspan of this particular species is 68 to 104 mm (2.7 to 4.1 in) making it the largest swallowtail in western North America.

The butterfly can be seen from Guatemala, through Mexico, the western United States to southern Canada in southern British Columbia, Alberta and southwestern Saskatchewan. It typically lives near streams and in moist valleys but also in canyons and cities at lower elevations lower elevations.

Host plants include: chokecherry, bitter cherry, Arizona rosewood, single-leaf ash, hoptree, and Arizona Sycamore.

Larvae feed on chokeberry, willow (Salix spp.), cherry (Prunus spp.), poplar (Populus spp.), and ash (Fraxinus spp.).

The Two-tailed Swallowtail is the state butterfly of Arizona.

Dimensions 3 3/8-5 1/8" (86-130 mm).

Habitat Canyons & caves, Cities, suburbs & towns, Meadows & fields.

Range Rocky Mountains, Texas, California, Southwest, Plains, Northwest.