giant swallowtail returns

Kathleen Moon kmoon at
Sun Jul 4 02:54:54 EDT 1999

> Kathleen Moon wrote:
> >
> > Sunsol Daniels wrote:
> > >
> > > J Shields <truezane at> wrote:
> > > >
> > > >I had observed several giant swallowtails last year, in September and
> > > >October, in my yard in mar vista CA; today, July 1, I have been
> > > watching
> > > >one in my backyard for the past hour.  It looks as though they're
> > > taking
> > > >up residency in my neighborhood.  It seems to like landing on my tomato
> > > >plants - not interested in my natives in the front yard.  Anyway, I
> > > will
> > > >be watching to see if it lays any eggs on my neighbor's orange tree.
> > > >Just thought I would share this
> > > >Anyone interested can contact me
> > >
> > > What was it doing on the tomato plant? Sunning?  I saw a swallowtail
> > > (Western Tiger?) visiting avocado leaves yesterday.  It looked like it
> > > was laying eggs.  I haven't tried to get up there to look. Has anybody
> > > found larvae on avocado?  I've never read of such a thing. Is it possible?
> >
> > When it comes to the western tiger using avocado as a larval host, I
> > have no idea, but I saw something that looked like a large western tiger
> > swallowtail (maybe a stray two-tailed swallowtail?) lay eggs on our
> > peach tree three years ago.  Given that the latter uses western
> > chokecherry - both peach and chokecherry are in the genus Prunus - in
> > the area near Gorman (about halfway between Los Angeles and Bakersfield,
> > for those of you who are not familiar with southern California
> > geography), that didn't sound to far-fetched except for the elevation
> > difference: Canoga Park is at about 850 feet elevation, whereas the area
> > I am talking about is over 6000 feet.
> >
> > Now for the "normal" stuff :-) for the western tiger, sycamore is more
> > within the realm of reason, and various citrus for the giant
> > swallowtail.  As for the mentality that, so prevalent in today's
> > society, has man subjugating nature right and left, it was only a matter
> > of time before the giant made it into the Los Angeles area.  If you or
> > anyone else wishes to question my attitude on this, just look around
> > you: how far is it to the nearest citrus tree?
> There are many citrus in various gardens and backyards throuhout the S.
> California area where climate allows.
> > Given that the giant is
> > a fairly strong flier, don't you think it could make it from one group
> > of trees, an actual grove or orchard or not, to the next in a season?
> > The answer is yes and it is nothing short of ludicrous to think that it
> > can be controlled by spraying the [!@#$%^] out of it to make it stay
> > away from our trees.
> Why do that,  the predation is so high one is lucky to find a single
> larva in an orange tree hardly any reason for concern.
> > Another look at the situation: it is a tropical
> > species; how cold a winter do you think it can survive?
> Since they are found in Chicago and there are some individuals who find
> them in Canada and actually in early spring it is evident that P.
> cresphontes is definitely not only a tropical species.
You raise some good points.  Now how do we get the ag types with their
insecticide canisters to put them back on the shelf and start
appreciating Nature for what it really is, namely a gift from God?  I
know, "education" is the key, but if a fellow doesn't want the class, we
can't make him take it.  One of the guys who work at the Orcutt Ranch (a
unit of the Los Angelkes city Parks and Recreation Department in the
northwest corner of Canoga Park) told me last year that he wanted to get
a picture of the giant swallowtail so he could be sure to kill every
last one because he "knew all the community gardens types who do any
gardening there would be in a panic iof they didn't spray for it."  Of
course this attitude is so ignorant it is obscene, but that has no more
to do with my point of view than with  the eating habits of a horned
lizard (which eats ants).
Pierre A Plauzoles
ae779 at
(temporarily using my wife's Internet access)

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