THE JAMAICAN GIANT SWALLOWTAIL BUTTERFLY
The Jamaican Giant swallowtail butterfly is said to be one of the largest butterflies in the Western Hemisphere but the smallest subspecies of Papilio Thoas. It is yellow and black in colour and has a wing span of up to 20cm.
This specie of butterfly is endemic to Jamaica and is primarily found in the eastern end of the Blue Mountains and Cockpit Country.This may be attributed to the fact that they prefer to dwell in remote, undisturbed areas. It is said that they also prefer wet limestone forest.
Swallowtails are different from other butterflies in a number of ways. They possess a unique organ behind their heads as caterpillars called the osmeterium. This is normally hidden but when the caterpillar feels threatened by predators, it is used to release a foul smell. They also generally have tails on their hind wings and are known to be nomadic.
For food, these butterflies usually feed on leaves of trees and flowers. The giant swallowtails are among Jamaica’s finest gems and are to be protected, not collected.