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Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)


Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

The Eastern Tiger Swallowtail belonging to the swallowtail family, is mostly indigenous to the eastern parts of the United States. The black stripes on its yellow body have perhaps earned it the name “tiger”.

Scientific Classification

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


Description and Identification


Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Caterpillar
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Larva

The young ones have a white and brown body, while the older caterpillars are green with eyespots of blue, yellow and black (two) on its thorax.


Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Chrysalis

The pupa or chrysalis may be white or dark brown.

Adult Butterfly

Sexual Dimorphism: Present

Color and Appearance: When the wings are opened they are yellow, also having four stripes black in color, mostly prominent in the males. The forewings of the males are black, further decorated with yellow spots lined in a row, while the veins are even black. In females, the body could either be yellow just as the males or it may attain a complete black form, teamed with dark stripes. Moreover, the hind wing even comprises of neatly arranged blue spots.When the wings are closed, the shades are mostly the same with a yellow base with black borders or a full black body as in females.

Male Eastern Tiger Swallowtail
Female Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

Average Wingspan: 7.9 – 14 cm (3.1 -5.5 inches)

Flight Pattern: Erratic and fast, making three flights between February and November to the south and two flights between May and September to the North.


Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Eggs

The round,green eggs undergo a transformation and eventually change to yellowish green, marked with red dots. They are 0.8 mm and 1.2 mm in height and width respectively.

Quick Facts

Distribution Whole of eastern North America ranging from Southern Ontario up to the Gulf Coast as well as northern Mexico, and also New Hampshire
Habitat Woodlands,rivers, creeks, fields, gardens and roadsides. Urban parks as well as city yards has also been its habitat in the recent times
Lifespan of Adults Approximately a month
Host Plants Wild black cherry (Prunus serotina); Ash (Fraxinus species); Cottonwood (Populus species); Hoptree or water ash (Ptelea trifoliate); Common lilac (Syringa vulgaris); Sweet bay magnolia (Magnolia virginiana); Tulip poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera); Willow ( Salix species)
Adult Diet Flower nectar from plants like milkweed, butterfly bush, phlox, Japanese honeysuckle, lilac, wild cherry and ironweed

Did You Know

  • These species of butterflies are known to be the most polyphagous among all swallowtails since they eat a lot of things apart from flower nectar like carrion, urine and dung.
  • They are the state butterfly of Georgia, Delaware, North and South Carolina, and Alabama of which it is also the state mascot. It is even Virginia’s state insect.
  • The black color of the females resembles that of the pipevine swallowtail which is a little poisonous and inhabits the same area as the former. They could take this as an advantage and use it as mimicry to protect themselves against preys.
Pictures of Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly
Papilio Glaucus
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Host Plant
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly Pictures
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Life Cycle

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Scientific Classification

  • Family: Papilionidae
  • Genus: Papilio
  • Scientific Name: Papilio glaucus
Published by Avatar on July 6, 2019.
Last Updated: July 29, 2023. ✅ Verified by: Butterfly Team