Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Papilio glaucus

Type of Animal:
Swallowtail Butterfly

Woodlands, forest margins, forest borders, forest edges, swamps, waterways, gardens, parks, roadsides, meadows, pastures, hammocks, tree areas near streams, moist stream banks, mud puddles, urban areas

E & C North America

Males yellow to orange-yellow w/ 4 black “tiger stripes” on each forewing, forewing outer edges black w/ yellow spots along margin & black marked veins. Females come in 2 morphs-yellow & dark-yellow morph somewhat similar to male except blue area on dorsal hindwing. Dark morph dark gray to black instead of yellow & faint striping. Caterpillars go through 5 instars (development phases)-1st 3 instars brown, 4th instar green w/ noticeable eyespots, yellow/black transverse stripe between 1st & 2nd abdominal segments. 5th instar green becoming brown before pupa (chrysalis) stage. Older instars have 2 large dorsal eyespots near hind end & 2 smaller ones near head.

Adults eat nectar as well as salts/other mineral nutrients from puddles. Caterpillars eat tulip plants, sweetbay magnolias, red maples, willows, cherry plants, birches, cottonwoods, ash, rhododendrons, basswoods, sassafras, celery plants, carrot plants, parsnip plants, Queen Anne’s laces, & milkweeds.

Status in Wild:

Breeding in butterfly gardens, zoos, aquariums, & museums

Found in groups of 6-200 butterflies. Caterpillars solitary or in groups.

Additional Info:

Young: Caterpillar
Group: Flutter

Male: 0.69 g
Female: 0.75 g

4-10 days

Life Span:
5 weeks-9.5 months

Body Length/Wingspan:
Male: 2-3.5 in
Female: 3-5.5 in
Caterpillar: 2 in

Hornets, wasps, birds, squirrels, raccoons, opossums, spiders, praying mantids, & green darner dragonflies prey on both adults & caterpillars. Trogus wasp larvae parasitize caterpillars, eating them from inside out. 

Females lay single green eggs on leaves of host plants. Eggs hatch in 4-10 days. Caterpillar stage lasts 3-4 weeks, in which they go through 5 instars (development phases). After 5th instar, they transition to pupal (chrysalis) stage, which lasts 10-20 days. Overwintering pupae last several months. Adults live 1-2 weeks. 

Males die after mating & females die after laying eggs.

Males visit puddles more than females.

One of the largest butterflies in North America.

Sometimes hybridize w/ other swallowtail species.

2-3 generations produced each year.

Fun Fact(s):
Caterpillars use camouflage as well as fake eyespots to deter predators. Orange fleshy osmeteria (located on 1st segment of thorax) emit foul-smelling chemicals to repel predators. Dark morph females mimic poisonous Pipevine swallowtails. 

State butterfly of Alabama, Delaware, Georgia, & both Carolinas & state insect of Virginia.

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