giant swallowtail returns

Kathleen Moon kmoon at
Sun Jul 4 03:12:22 EDT 1999

> Pierre A Plauzoles wrote:
> >
> > The only lep I have ever heard of eating avocado foliage is a large
> > tropical saturniid in the genus Rothschildia (I don't recall the
> > species).  Does this mean that there is nothing else that eats avocado?
> > **HEAVENS NO**!  I just haven't heard of it yet.  As for swallowtails
> > eating avocado, smae goes for them: I haven't heard of any, but it
> > wouldn't surprise me.  Maybe Chris Conlan knows what the scoop is.
> > Chris, are you reading?
> >
> > --
> > Pierre Plauzoles   ae779 at
> > Canoga Park, California
> OK. According to my list, Papilio palamedes uses (in Florida) red bay,
> (Persea borbonica) sweet bay, sassafras and avocado (Persea americana).
> There's a lot of difference between different avocado leaves, speaking
> as a herbalist of sorts. Some of them are medicinal. They make a
> pleasant tea, good for colds and fear, as I recall. Some of them are
> just nasty.
> I think there are some Mexican recipes involving avocado leaves ...
> wrapped around bits of chicken or pork or some such. Those are probably
> the avocadoes your butterfly would fancy.
> I notice, scurrying on down the list, that the spicebush swallowtail
> (Papilio troilus) uses spicebush (Lindera benzoin), various bays incl.
> Persea borbonica, and Sassafras. No mention of avocado but that doesn't
> prove a thing.
> The Tiger swallowtail, Papilio glaucus, in Florida, uses sweetbay,
> magnolia spp., spicebush, and the willow, maple, ash and cherry you're
> accustomed to.
> If nature went by logic, which it may or may not, I would see no reason
> why, given a tasty avocado, it should not lay upon that.
> I don't think we have nearly enough people in the field finding out
> which garden plants butterflies lay their eggs on. All of us in a state
> of denial, that's what we are. :-) Weeds, they eat weeds, we claim.
> As for the giant swallowtail, I've never see them do much harm to
> anything except very young citrus trees. But our predators know that the
> larvae are food. It takes a while for vertebrate predators to recognize
> and accept a new source of food. Looking like a turd and smelling like
> dirty socks must have some advantage, or the race would surely have lost
> these characteristics.
> Grove owners don't like this butterfly ... I suppose they know.
> We have so many problems with citrus trees these days, what with new
> pests coming in daily, diseases and cankers and so forth, that I bet the
> Ag people would love to have the homeowners abandon growing citrus, and
> concentrate on planting native plants.
Of course they know it eats citrus foliage, but do they appreciate the
relationship between predator and prey - or anything about food chains,
for that matter??  Are you kidding me?  The attitude in answer I got is
a resounding "NO!!  We would rather make sure every last one is dead.
We don't want to lose a mill of our precious fruit, let alone a buck or
two.  If killing all of them takes some non-target species along with
it, so what?"  Stupid?  No, "stupid" is not the word.  As a matter of
fact, there is no word strong enough in the English language (nor any
other) to fit what I think of this attitude.
Do I sound angry?  I think I have a right to be.
Pierre A Plauzoles
ae779 at
(temporarily using my wife's Internet access)

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