As I continue to watch the swarm of butterflies on the weeds near my day job I’m reminded of the iconic animation of flowers turning into butterflies and filling the air. There was so many colors swirling around that it was a little surreal. The entomology class that I took focused on pest control and we tended to lump all of the Swallowtail Butterflies into one group. And it actually wasn’t until I started researching for this series that I learned of all the subspecies. This one is the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail.
Tonight’s feature image is a male. The males are always yellow and do not have blue spots on the hind wings.
The female Tiger Swallowtail seems to have a diverse wardrobe. That ranges from light yellow to dark black.
The female always has blue dots on the lower hind wings and is easy to confuse with the Spicebush Swallowtail. ( The Spicebush Swallowtail will be in an upcoming post)
A notable behavior of the Tiger Swallowtail is puddling. They tend to gather together on the edges of water for a drink. It’s not uncommon for butterflies to get water and minerals this way but it’s only the Tiger Swallowtail that I’ve seen doing this as a group. When I was a teenager I remember one trip to the lake when one of my friends managed to capture several of the Tiger Swallowtails at once. He grinned and slipped beneath the surface taking the butterflies with him. At the time I thought that the butterflies would be harmed but now I know that insects are basically balloons. Their complex respiratory system actually gives them the ability to hold their breath for several minutes. When he released them under water he managed to keep them in a bubble and the sight of the butterflies emerging from the water was pretty spectacular.
With the knowledge of puddling I think that it might be possible to entice the Swallowtail Butterflies to come closer by mixing a salty/sweet solution and soaking a sponge for them to gather on.
I don’t have a picture of the catipiller but it’s kinda special too. The Swallowtail catipiller has a butt that mimics the head of a snake complete with large cartoon eyes!
As we head into summer some of more colorful blooms will the choice food for butterflies of all kinds and I hope to bring you some spectacular images. Have a blessed day everyone!
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