The eastern tiger swallowtail butterfly has different features based on gender. Males are yellow with dark tiger stripes, while the female can be yellow or black with shadowed stripes. The upperside hindwing has an orange spot and the underside of the forewing may have a band of color similar to the Canadian tiger swallowtail. The average wingspan varies between 2.5 to 4.5 inches for both male and female. This makes them much larger than a monarch.
Throughout the year there are two broods from May to September in the north and three broods from February to November in the south. When mating, the males actively patrol in search of a mate. Eggs are laid singly on host plants. Once hatched, the caterpillars feed on the leaves of the host plant, such as wild cherry, sweetbay, basswood, tulip trees, and willows. Caterpillars are brown and white in color when newly hatched but change color to green with orange and black false eyespots as it grows older. As an adult they will feed on the nectar from lilac, wild cherry, milkweed, and joe-pye weed to name a few.
Eastern tiger swallowtail can be found from eastern North America in the Rocky Mountains down to central Texas. This species likes deciduous habitats such as broadleaf wood, forest edge, river valleys, parks, and even suburbs. Generally, they can be found alone, with males flying and looking for a mate.
Written by: Christian Newkirk, an undergraduate Environmental Science student at the University of Oklahoma