The popular Eastern Tiger Swallowtail is a large butterfly that bears a proud honor in a variety of American states.
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Videos
Dark female Eastern Tiger Swallowtails drinking from zinnias during a cicada concert
A yellow female Eastern Tiger Swallowtail taking nectar from a zinnia flower
An Eastern Tiger Swallowtail taking nectar from a Buddleia bush
Eastern Tiger Swallowtails are huge, bright butterflies that are commonly seen east of the Mississippi River. They are a variety of forms, varying in color by age and gender. The most popular form has black, tiger-like striping on yellow wings. Males are mostly yellow with black edges, but females have waves of blue and orange at the edges of their wings. Young females hardly resemble their more mature selves. They are mostly black with blue along the bottom edges of the wings. This darker coloring is more common in the southern U.S. whereas the classic yellow coloring is more typical in northern states. All Eastern Tiger Swallowtails have a long tail-like extension at the bottom of each hindwing.
This species has the honor of being the state butterfly of five eastern states: Delaware, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. As a member of the Swallowtail family, it joins its relatives in being the largest group of butterflies on the continent. They are extremely easy to attract, flocking to gardens that have an abundance of flowers. They are good pollinators and worth attracting for aesthetic reasons as well. They can also be seen flying on open roads, in woods, meadows, fields and parks.
The Eastern Tiger Swallowtail caterpillar is a smooth bright green or brown color with a yellow band near the front of its body, just after a pair of 'eyes' on the head. The head is rounded and large for a caterpillar, and looks somewhat like a helmet. These caterpillars feed on a variety of trees including tuliptree, sweetbay, cottonwood and cherry, but not enough to hurt the host plant. They are not considered pests.
Scientific Name: Papilio glaucus
Other Name(s): Tiger Swallowtail
Butterfly or Moth
Size (Adult; Length): 79mm to 140mm (3.08in to 5.46in)
Note: An insect's reach is not limited by lines drawn on a map and therefore species may appear in areas, regions and/or states beyond those listed above as they are driven by environmental factors (such as climate change), available food supplies and mating patterns. Grayed-out selections indicate that the subject in question has not been reported in that particular territory. U.S. states and Canadian provinces / territories are clickable to their respective bug listings.
Butterfly and Moth Anatomy
Antennae: Butterflies and Moths have a pair of antennae on the head used as sensors.
Head: The head is home to the insect's eyes, antennae, and proboscis.
Thorax: Home to the three pairs of legs as well as vital internal organs.
Abdomen: Contains vital internal organs such as the heart(s) and reproduction facilities.
Forewing: The upper, forward wing pair used for flying.
Hindwing: The lower, rearward wing pair used for flying.
NOTE: Butterflies and Moths are part of the Lepidopteran order as they share many similarities.