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Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)


Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail



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The popular Eastern Tiger Swallowtail is a large butterfly that bears a proud honor in a variety of American states.



Updated: 03/18/2021; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
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 sex. 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.




Known Diet of the Eastern-Tiger-Swallowtail



foliage (caterpillar)


General Characteristics
Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Flying insect icon
Helpful insect icon
Striped or banded insect icon


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Taxonomic Hierarchy
Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Lepidoptera
        Family: Papilionidae
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          Genus: Papilio
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            Species: glaucus
Identifying Information
Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Papilio glaucus
Other Name(s): Tiger Swallowtail
Category: Butterfly or Moth
Size (Adult; Length): 79mm to 140mm (3.11" to 5.51")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: black; yellow; brown; orange; blue
Descriptors: stripes, large, flying, helpful

Eastern-Tiger-Swallowtail Video(s)




Dark female Eastern Tiger Swallowtails drinking from zinnias during a cicada concert.
An Eastern Tiger Swallowtail taking nectar from a pink butterfly bush, and then a yellow female drinking from an orange zinnia.
An Eastern Tiger Swallowtail taking nectar from a Buddleia bush.
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Relative Size Comparison
Typical Size Between 79mm (3.1in) and 140mm (5.5in)
Lo: 79mm
Md: 109.5mm
Hi: 140mm
Territorial Map*
U.S., Canada, and Mexico
State of Alabama graphic
State of Arizona graphic
State of Arkansas graphic
State of California graphic
State of Colorado graphic
State of Delware graphic
State of Florida graphic
State of Georgia graphic
State of Idaho graphic
State of Illinois graphic
State of Indiana graphic
State of Iowa graphic
State of Kansas graphic
State of Kentucky graphic
State of Louisiana graphic
State of Maine graphic
State of Maryland graphic
State of Michigan graphic
State of Minnesota graphic
State of Mississippi graphic
State of Missouri graphic
State of Montana graphic
State of Nebraska graphic
State of Nevada graphic
State of New England graphic
State of New Jersey graphic
State of New Mexico graphic
State of New York graphic
State of North Carolina graphic
State of North Dakota graphic
State of Ohio graphic
State of Oklahoma graphic
State of Oregon graphic
State of Pennsylvania graphic
State of South Carolina graphic
State of South Dakota graphic
State of Tennessee graphic
State of Texas graphic
State of Utah graphic
State of Virginia graphic
State of Washington graphic
State of West Virginia graphic
State of Wisconsin graphic
State of Wyoming graphic
Canadian territory of Alberta graphic
Canadian territory of British Columbia graphic
Canadian territory of Manitoba graphic
Canadian territory of New Brunswick graphic
Canadian territory of Newfoundland and Labrador graphic
Canadian territory of Ontario graphic
Canadian territory of Quebec graphic
Canadian territory of Saskatchewan graphic
Territory map graphic of the country of Mexico
Contiguous United States shape map layer graphic
Alaska  
Hawaii  
Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data is useful when attempting to see concentrations of particular species across the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some insects are naturally confined by environment, weather, mating habits, food resources and the like while others see widespread expansion across most, or all, of North America. States/Territories shown above are a general indicator of areas inhabited by the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.

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