Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly (Papilio glaucus)

Pricing: Dead (spread, as pictured): $30-$40
Geographic Range: Alaska to Central and Eastern North America.
View: Top View  Sex: Male


Image Copyright 2003
Barbara Strnadova

The Eastern Tiger Swallowtail is one of the most spectacular of North America’s butterflies. Males are colored a rich yellow and marked with black, sometimes with small, blue splotches within the black margins of the hindwings. Females are larger than males and are marked with more blue on the hindwings. Sometimes the females have yellow, like the males, but often the yellow is replaced by black. These dark females will have varying amounts of blue on the hindwings, arranged as a speckling of blue scales in an attempt to mimic the distasteful Pipevine Swallowtail (Battus philenor). The presence of these dark females in a good indicator of the size of the local Battus philenor population. Adult Papilio glaucus are attracted to flowers, where they feed on the nectar. Females lay their eggs on a wide variety of broadleaf trees and shrubs. Favorites include willows and cottonwoods (Salicaceae spp.), birches (Betulaceae spp.), ashes (Fraxinus spp.), cherries (Prunus spp.) and tulip poplars (Liriodendron tulipifera). Immature caterpillars resemble bird droppings while mature larvae are bright green with two large, orange and black eye-spots located near the head. In the temperate parts of its range, Papilio glaucus is often one of the first butterflies to emerge in May. In the south, it may have as many as three broods and be on the wing all year round. There are several species of Tiger Swallowtails in North America, Papilio glaucus being the most common and widespread. It can be found from central Alaska east, through central Canada to the Atlantic. In the continental U.S.A. it ranges southeast of the Rocky Mountains, from Maine to the Gulf Coast. It becomes rarer at the northern and southern reaches of its range. In Alaska and Canada, individual butterflies tend to be smaller and paler than those found in the U.S.A. and are considered a subspecies Papilio glaucus canadensis. The specimen pictured was collected in Orange County, NY.