Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly (Saline, Michigan)

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly (Saline, Michigan), photo by cseeman

The University of Michigan Animal Diversity Web entry for the eastern tiger swallowtail butterfly (Papilio glaucus) says in part:

The eastern tiger swallowtail ranges from Alaska and the Hudsonian zone of Canada to the southern United States, east of the Rocky Mountains.

This species occurs in nearly every area where deciduous woods are present, including towns and cities. It is most numerous along streams and river, and in wooded swamps.

As with most butterflies, Eastern tiger swallowtails tend to be solitary. Males “patrol” for a mate, flying from place to place actively searching for females. “Patrolling” male tiger swallowtails can recognize areas of high moisture absorbtion by the sodium ion concentration of the area. It is believed that the moisture found by these males helps cool them by initiating an active-transport pump. Both male and female tiger swallowtails are known to be high fliers. Groups of fifty butterflies have been spotted in Maryland flying 50 meters high, around the tops of tulip trees.

The tiger swallowtail is thought of as the American insect, in much the same way as the Bald Eagle is thought of as the American bird. It was the first American insect pictured in Europe; a drawing was sent to England from Sir Walter Raleighs’ third expedition to Virginia.

You can read on for more including photos. I also found a page with a listing of Michigan butterflies and apparently we have eight species of swallowtail butterfly. You can also see some great eastern swallowtail photos from Butterflies & Moths. Spoiler alert: the female can look a lot different.

Corey writes that he got this shot at the butterfly bush he planted this year. Check it out background big and see more great shots of this fellow in his butterfly slideshow.

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