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Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly
Papilio glaucus

I didn’t know this before I wrote this entry, but the Tiger Swallowtail is the official State Insect of Virginia. Woo hoo!

This is a very common butterfly. I did not know that the female can be the yellow color scheme as well as black and blue (see identification below). This dark color scheme of the female can easily be confused with the Spicebush Swallowtail butterfly. They are very hard to tell apart, but looking at various images, I think one of the main ways is that although they both have a blue wash at the base of the hind-wing, the Tiger Swallowtail has some white/yellow spots above that blue wash, which also seems to be a little more distinctive. The Spicebush Swallowtail has a more “blurry” blue wash (which looks a little more green/blue in color) and does NOT have the white/yellow coloring spots above the blue wash. Whew! Here’s a website that is sort of helpful to show the difference.

Females of the Tiger Swallowtail prefer Tulip Poplars and Wild Black Cherry trees to lay their eggs. Probably why there’s a lot of these butterflies around here (there are also a lot of those trees around here!)

Size: up to 4.5" wide with wings open
Family: Papilionidae 
Habitat: Deciduous forests and woodlands, borders of, meadows, in parks, suburban environments.
Identification: Mostly yellow wing with black stripes, and a black border with white border spots. However the female comes in two color schemes(!): yellow, and also black and blue color scheme with black wings, yellow spots on the rear of her fore-wings and a blue was on the end of the hind-wings. Body of yellow version is yellow and black, on black version is black with a little white.
All text and photos copyright © 2022 Middle Way Nature Reserve, unless noted.
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