Post last updated: August 27th, 2019
The Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus) is my favorite of the butterflies. The first time I saw it with the black tiger stripes going down the length of the yellow wing, I thought of piano keys. It ranges from Alaska and Canada to the southern United States, east of the Rocky Mountains. In Florida (except the Florida Keys), it can be seen between February and November.
Open woodland where deciduous woods are present, forest edges, pastures (the Southern Rural Route is surrounded by all three) and wooded swamps, streams and rivers.
Males are always yellow with black tiger stripes and a black border around the edges of the wings. They do not have any blue coloring or orange spots (called scales) on their hind wings. Females can be yellow or all black. The females have more blue on the hindwing, whether yellow or black. It is believed the tiger striping on females distracts predators and the black coloring imitates the pipevine swallowtail which feeds on pipevines that are toxic to other animals. Wing span is generally 3.5 to 5.5 inches in size.
Females lay a single, large green egg on plants in the magnolia and rose families.
This is another caterpillar that looks like bird droppings when first hatched. The caterpillar feeds on leaves of various woody plants (see below). At maturity, the caterpillar becomes green with a head that is larger than his body. The head also has two black false eye spots. The eye spots are a type of deceptive coloration that helps protect the caterpillar from predators. Predators see the eye spots and assume the caterpillar is a large animal.
The chrysalis may be green or brown and takes much longer to hatch than other butterflies.
The adult Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly lives for about a month from spring through fall. During their lifespan, they will reproduce two or three times.
WHAT TO PLANT FOR THE EASTERN TIGER SWALLOWTAIL
Host plants — leaves of trees and shrubs such as Black Cherry (Prunus serotina), Ash (Fraxinus spp.), Sweet Bay (Magnolia virginiana), Tulip Tree (Liriodendron tulipifera), and Cottonwood (Populus deltoids).
Nectar plants — Black-Eyed Susan, Ironweed, Japanese Honeysuckle, Milkweed, Red Clover, Spotted Joe Pye Weed, Thistles.