Each year, we seem to have even more Eastern tiger swallow tail butterflies in the garden at Seven Oaks. They’re the predominant butterfly, and no wonder- they are also the Virginia state insect.
The first known record of the Eastern Tiger Swallow Tail comes to us from Sir Walter Raleigh’s third expedition to Virginia. In 1587, a fellow by the name of John White drew a picture of the Eastern Tiger Swallow Tail. It seems I’m in good company; I love to photograph them, and it was the first North American butterfly recorded by a European.
Papilio glaucus, as this butterfly should be properly called, inhabits the United States all along the East coast to the Rocky Mountain areas. It prefers wooded habitats, fields bordering woodlands, and gardens. Like mine. It really is plentiful here!
The caterpillars produce up to three broods per year. One interesting fact is that the first brood is the smallest. I wonder if that’s because food isn’t as plentiful for the first brood?
Caterpillars start life dark brown, but later turn green, with large green, black and blue eye spots. They return to a brown color before the chrysalis form. Chrysalis of the Eastern tiger swallow tail winter over, with butterflies emerging in February in the deep south. Around here, they appear March through April, depending on the weather.
The males are always yellow, like the one above, with black stripes and spots, but females can either be yellow, dark brown or black with blue spots, like this one below:
Do you plant flowers for butterflies? I love butterfly gardens and they are so easy to grow. See my presentation on Slideshare or on the resources page here on the blog for a free and brief guide to butterfly gardens.