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Canadian Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio canadensis)


Canadian Tiger Swallowtail

The Canadian Tiger Swallowtail is a species of light-coloredbutterflies that are common in Canada, as their name suggests. Because of theirclose resemblance, they are often confused for the eastern tiger swallowtail bythe butterfly watchers. Adults are seen flying during spring and summer.

Scientific Classification

  • Family: Papilionidae
  • Genus: Papilio
  • Scientific Name: Papilio canadensis

Description and Identification


Canadian Tiger Swallowtail Caterpillar
Canadian Tiger Swallowtail Larvae

The mature larva has a large size with a green coloration and an enlarged head. There are two pairs of yellow dots and one pair of falseeyes with bluish hue in the middle. This profile renders a snake-like appearance to the creature, which is primarily to scare off its enemies. Whenthey are immature, they display brown and white body marks to mimic birddroppings. This gives them a look that isunappealing to its predators.


The chrysalis is light to dark grayish brown in color. They hibernate and overwinter, hanging themselves from the twigs or branches using silk threads.

Adult Butterfly

Sexual Dimorphism: Not visibly present

Color and Appearance: When the wings are open, the upper side of both the male and the female’s forewings display relatively broad stripes in black on a yellowish white to cream base color. When the wings are closed, the theventral surface shows marginal yellowspots that have merged to form a continuous band. There are also numerousorange scales on the hindwings.

Canadian Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly
Papilio canadensis

Average wingspan: 67 to 80 mm

Flight pattern: Medium to fast


Canadian Tiger Swallowtail Eggs

Translucent white to light greenish, and are laid singly on the host plant

Quick Facts

Distribution North America starting ranging from central Alaska southeast across Canada, as well as, the northern Great Lakes states to the northern regions of New England
Habitat Deciduous, evergreen-deciduous woods, forest edges
Lifespan of adults Up to 2 weeks
Host plants Prunus serotina, and those belonging to the genus Betula, Populus, and Malus
Adult diet Flower nectar

Did You Know?

  • The species has a black female form which is extremely rare.
  • The butterfly was once erroneously classified as a subspecies of Papilio glaucus.
  • The males are often seen gathering on wet soil, in groups, to consume moisture.
Canadian Tiger Swallowtail Range
Canadian Tiger Swallowtail Images
Canadian Tiger Swallowtail Pictures

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Scientific Classification

  • Family: Papilionidae
  • Genus: Papilio
  • Scientific Name: Papilio canadensis
Published by Avatar on January 2, 2019.
Last Updated: October 13, 2023. ✅ Verified by: Butterfly Team