The life cycle of the African giant swallowtail begins with the laying of a single, smooth, nearly spherical egg. From this egg hatches a larva, which, like most larvae of Papilio species, probably feed on plants of the Rutaceae family (3). The larvae possess an extensible, fleshy forked organ called the osmeterium in the first thoracic segment. The osmeterium is connected to a scent gland, and when the larva is threatened or disturbed, it thrusts out the osmeterium through a slit in the thorax, filling the surrounding air with a repulsive odour (2) (3). After going through five changes of skin, (instars), the chrysalis, or pupa, develops. The pupa is attached to a plant, and held in an upright position by a thread of silk around the middle (3).
Female African giant swallowtails are generally more retiring in their habits, while males may congregate at drinking spots or be observed flying swiftly alongside streams. Males of Papilio species can be highly aggressive, and sometimes jostle and fight while defending a territory along a stretch of river (4).