Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)
Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail.
Updated: 3/2/2018; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
The popular Eastern Tiger Swallowtail is a large butterfly that bears a proud honor in a variety of American states.
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.