This bright, bold, yellow and black butterfly, also known as the king swallowtail, is found from the southernmost United States down through Central America and as far south as Argentina and Uruguay.
This species is one of many that exhibit ‘hilltopping’ behaviour in order to attract mates – the basic idea of which appears to be that by clustering at the tops of hills the butterflies restrict the area in which they have to look for mates and for them to be looked for by the females. After an exploratory flight over a large area of the hilltop, male P. thoas patrol a small and well-defined area, often flying in perfect circles of about 2m diameter, or resting on some vantage point and darting out at every passing butterfly.
The caterpillars feed on the leaves of citrus plants. Adult P. thoas swallowtails fly year round in the tropics, feeding on nectar of a variety of flowers, including Lantana, Stachytarpheta, and Bougainvillea among other species. The wingspan is 100–130 mm.
The butterfly has been prepared in the UK to museum standards and is displayed in a deep handmade shadowbox frame, mounted on white conservation-grade foam. The back of the frame is covered in really special Italian decorative paper, with a brass hook for hanging it on the wall (but it also stands perfectly on a mantlepiece or a table). It is completely sealed inside the frame and will last for generations.