Virginia State Insect
Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly (common name)
Papilio glaucus (scientific name)
The tiger swallowtail is a large, yellow butterfly with wings that have black edges, black stripes, and small iridescent red and blue markings. The black stripes at the top of the butterfly’s wings resemble a tiger’s stripes. These butterflies are called swallowtails because the long "tails" on their wings look like the long, pointed tails of a bird called the swallow. The lower or hind wings have scalloped edges. There is also a version of the tiger swallowtail, a dark form that is completely black with bluish-purple markings. This is completely distinct from the black swallowtail, which is a separate species with very different markings. The tiger swallowtail butterfly was named the state insect of Delaware in 1999, Georgia in 1988, South Carolina in 1994, and Virginia in 1991.
Wingspan: 3.5–6.5 in (8.8–16.5 cm)
Larvae: The newly hatched caterpillar is initially brown and white and then turns green with a large head and bright "eye spots." The butterfly develops from egg to larva (caterpillar) to pupa to adult in one month.
Two to three weeks
In deciduous woods, along streams, rivers, and wooded swamps.
Range: The United States east of the Rocky Mountains. The northern range is from eastern Colorado to southern Ontario and southern Vermont. Its southern range extends to northeastern Mexico. Two closely-related species are the larger Papilio appalachiensis in the Appalachian region and the Papilio canadensis in the northeastern US and Canada.
Flight period: The first flight begins in late February or early March and continues through late autumn or early winter in the southern part of the range. There are two flights in the northern part of the range and three to four flights in the southern range.
Conservation status: Least Concern
Females lay eggs one at a time on the leaves of host plants. The eggs hatch into caterpillars within one week, longer if the temperature is cool. After feeding for a week (during which the caterpillar molts several times) it seals itself into a cocoon (also known as a pupa or chrysalis) and hibernates. The insect undergoes a metamorphosis and emerges as an adult butterfly 10–14 days later. Shortly after the butterfly’s wings have been unfolded and dried, the butterfly takes flight and begins to feed on flower nectar.
Adults: Nectar from the flowers of milkweed, thistles, cherry, Japanese honeysuckle, ironweed, lilac, and red clover.
Larvae: The caterpillar's first meal is its own shell. Caterpillars eat the leaves of a wide variety of trees and shrubs, including cottonwood, tulip tree, sweet bay, lemon, and cherry.
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|Author: World Trade Press|