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Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

The male Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterfly (pictured) is yellow with four “tiger stripes” on each of its forewings. The female can be yellow or black, and has more blue on the hind wings than the male. Eastern Tiger Swallowtails are currently mating and laying eggs on plants which their larvae eat, which include black cherry, red maple and American hornbeam. When the caterpillars first hatch, they resemble bird droppings – an effective way of decreasing predation. As they get older, the larvae turn green and have a large head and bright eyespots.

5 responses

  1. Cecelia Blair

    I saw lots of these yesterday in Windsor, swirling around the western side of Lake Runnemede by the the pump houses. What a graceful, beautiful dance! Add to that the birdsong and the movement of breezes over the water, and I felt, “This is it!”

    May 24, 2012 at 1:56 pm

  2. They are frequent visitors in my backyard. I could watch them all day.

    May 24, 2012 at 5:44 pm

  3. Libby

    Hi Mary…can you post a note about the Canadian Swallowtails that seem to be in huge numbers this spring – how can we tell the difference between these two? That would e great!

    May 25, 2012 at 12:33 am

    • Hi Libby,
      You’re so right — the Canadian Tiger Swallowtail, which is also in the northern half of New England, is very similar to the Easter Tiger. It is usually noticeably smaller, but even more distinctive a difference is that underneath the forewing, the yellow marginal band on the Canadian Tiger Swallowtail is continuous, not broken as it is on the Easter Tiger Swallowtail.

      May 28, 2012 at 12:10 pm

  4. Driving the roads around here these days is a challenge, trying to avoid hitting any of these two swallowtails. Don’t know that I ever have seen so many in a week, let alone a season. Does our recent mild winter have anything to do with their abundance this year?

    May 28, 2012 at 1:16 pm

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