The Eastern Tiger Swallowtail is a type of swallowtail butterfly inhabiting North America. It has derived its name “Eastern,” because it is abundantly found in the eastern United States. The term “Tiger,” is used due to its distinctive tiger like markings, particularly found on the males. Finally “Swallowtail,” is because of their long “tail” on their hind wings which is similar to the swallows.
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail has several species that are alike in characteristics. They are Black Swallowtail (female), Appalachian Tiger Swallowtail and Spicebush Swallowtail.
This species of butterflies is very colorful and bright.
Color: Males are yellowish or yellow-orange in color with black tiger stripes. Their wings are bounded in black with yellowish spots and there are black tiger stripes running around the top of their wings. The long black tails have blue patches on them.
Picture 1 – Eastern Tiger Swallowtail
The color of the female varies from yellow to bluish-black. The hind wing of females has a row of prominent blue stripes and a sparkling blue wash over parts of the inner hind wing. The upper side hind wing has a distinct orange minor spot. On the underside of the forewing, the row of minor spots may be fused into a constant band which appears like the Canadian Tiger Swallowtail.
Size: The size of this butterfly is about three and a half to four and a half inches.
Wingspan: The wingspan is around two and a half to four and a half inches, which is 6.2 to 11.4 cm. The females are slightly larger than males.
The Eastern Tiger Swallowtail is abundantly found in North America in the east of the Rocky Mountains, starting from Ontario south to the Gulf coast and northern part of Mexico.
The Eastern Tiger Swallowtail lives in deciduous woods all along the streams, rivers, swamps, edges of forest, river valleys, parks and suburbs.
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail has certain behavioral traits.
Eastern tiger swallowtails usually avoid company.
Male Butterflies flies around all over,d expecting for a mate.
They are a timber species, but it can frequently be found in fields and all along roadsides.
Like the Canadian Tiger Swallowtail it is a mud puddler.
The caterpillars of this butterfly normally place themselves in the heart of the leaves and face upwards.
This butterfly species dotes on aromatic lilies.
These butterflies are powerful and swift fliers.
The Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly is active only during the day.
Butterflies can sip liquid food using a tube-like nose, which is quite long and kind of a flexible “tongue.” This proboscis disentangles to sip food and curls up again into a curve when not in use.
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail spreads its wings while resting.
They continue to flap their wings while feeding on nectar.
They huddle near each other around puddles and muddy rocks. This helps them take out necessary amino acids as well as sodium ions favorable for reproduction.
Picture 2 – Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Image
This butterfly has several bird predators. Sharp skinned hawk, Great crested flycatcher, Bald faced hornet, Red winged blackbird, Downy woodpecker, White breasted nuthatch, Fiery searcher, Eastern gray squirrel, Chinese mantid, Virginia opossum, Barred owl, Raccoon, Green darner, Common crow and Belted kingfisher are its most common predators.
They have very less adaptive features.
Caterpillars consume oils from the host plants of the carrot family. The stinking taste of the chemical in their bodies repulses birds and other predators.
Sometimes they can fly away quickly from their predators.
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail larvae eats the leaves of a variety of wooded plants which includes ash, wild cherry, birch, tulip, cottonwood and willow. The Adults eat the nectar of flowers from a variety of plants.
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail has three flights from the months of February to November in deep South and two flights from the months of May to September in north.
Picture 3 – Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Caterpillar
They brood twice, especially those from the northern part while butterflies from the southern area brood thrice. Males watch out for females who are receptive. They patrol at tree top points and swoop at lower levels to stop in front of females and offer to mate. During courtship the male and female flap around each other before landing and mating. If they feel they are under danger during mating then the female carries the male away. Male swallowtails have a scent like pheromone which is used in courtship.
Butterflies and moths go through complete transformation in which they undergo 4 diverse life stages. It takes around a month for the egg to grow up into an adult.
Larva Stage : After mating, female tiger swallowtails lay eggs on leaves of the host plants. When caterpillars first hatch, their color is like a bird excreta. As they grow up, they turn green with a large head and bright eyespots. The eyespots are not eyes.
Pupa Stage : When caterpillars grow up fully, they then turn into pupae. The name for this stage is chrysalis. The chrysalis of this butterfly is greenish-brown in color. It is little over an inch long. Hibernation occurs in this stage in those places with cold winter months.
Adult Stage : After a month from the time the egg was laid, a beautiful butterfly will come out from the cocoon. Butterflies stop growing once they emerge. An adult Eastern Tiger Swallowtail will pop out of the chrysalis in a couple of weeks. If the weather is too cold, the butterfly may wait till the spring season arrives.
Picture 4 – Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Egg
Life Host Plants
The leaves of various plants serve as host plants. These plants are wild cherry, birch sweetbay, mountain ash, basswood, tulip tree, ash, cottonwood and willow. Other plants include Yellow poplar, American hornbeam, Black willow, American elm, Spicebrush, Red maple and Sassafras.
The lifespan of the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly stretches from spring through fall, all through which they produce two or three broods. These butterflies live for about a month.
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail population is “secured” according to research.
Let us check out some of the interesting facts associated with this North American Butterfly.
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail listed this butterfly as the official state butterfly in South Carolina, George, Delaware, Virginia and Alabama. .
Virginia has labeled it as their official state insect.
Here are some of the incredible pictures of this colorful butterfly.