Tiger swallowtail Facts

Tiger swallowtail Facts
Tiger swallowtail is an insect that belongs to the group of swallowtail butterflies. It can be found in North America (from Canada to Mexico). Tiger swallowtail inhabits woodlands, edges of the forests, pastures, meadows, swamps, parks and gardens. It can be occasionally seen in the urban areas. Tiger swallowtail is widespread and numerous in the wild (it is not on the list of endangered species).
Interesting Tiger swallowtail Facts:
Tiger swallowtail can reach 3.5 to 4.5 inches in length.
Males have yellow wings covered with black stripes. Borders of the wings are black with yellow spots. Hind wings end with 2 black wing tails. Females look just like males with additional blue markings on the hind wings. Certain percent of females has completely brown or black wings with faint stripes.
Tiger swallowtail has long, thin, black body with one pair of antennas on top of the head, 3 pairs of legs and 2 pair of large wings.
Name "tiger swallowtail" refers to black, tiger-like stripes on the wings and long, pointed wing tails that look like swallow's tail (type of bird).
Tiger swallowtail has straw-like tube in the mouth which functions like flexible tongue designed for suction of liquids. "Tongue" is curled into spiral when it is not in use.
Tiger swallowtail visits oregano, purple coneflowers, zinnias and butterfly bush to extract nectar from the flowers. It occasionally consumes juice extracted from the overripe fruit.
Tiger swallowtail can be seen in the wild from February to November. It has a wingspan of 4 to 5 inches and it usually moves by gliding through the air.
Tiger swallowtail can lose one of its wing tails after close encounter with predators without losing ability to fly.
Dark colored females look like poisonous pipevine swallowtail. Atypical coloration keeps predators on a safe distance.
Natural enemies of tiger swallowtails are hornets, hawks, flycatchers, woodpeckers, blackbirds, owls, squirrels, raccoons and possums.
Female produces 2 to 3 broods in a lifecycle. She lays yellowish-green, spherical eggs on wild cherry, tulip tree, white ash and sweet bay. Leaves of these plants are basic source of food for the caterpillars (larvae that hatch from eggs). Nests made of leaves and silk are used as shelter from the predators.
Caterpillars are initially brown. They change the color into green with blue spots arranged in rows and develop yellow-black eyespots. Caterpillars can reach 2 inches in length.
Brown caterpillar resembles bird droppings, while eyespots on green caterpillar look like eyes of a snake. Both morphological features repel predators.
At the end of the larval stage, hard capsule (cocoon) forms around caterpillar. This stage, called pupa, ends with adult butterfly which emerges from the cocoon few days later.
Tiger swallowtail completes its life cycle (from egg to adult butterfly) in one month. Adult butterfly usually lives one month.

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