Monday, June 21, 2010

Bug of The Month: Tiger Swallowtail Papilio glaucus

I saw one today at my local park and I got all sentimental. XD I guess because never in a million years would I think of seeing one here of all places.

But I should be more expecting I guess. But I love surprises. Who doesn't?

On with the info. Since Wikipedia is keen on giving detailed descriptions of the butterfly instead of info on it's biology and life cycle.....smh I think I'll look elsewhere for anything that I didn't already know on this gorgeous butterfly.

For instance the female has 2 forms. A yellow one ( photo ) and a black one. Presumably to mimic Pipevine Swallowtails ( Battus philenor ). Why? Well because they're toxic. Think Monarch butterfly and you should get it ( Monarchs are toxic ).

But what I don't get is why it's only the females that do so? With the Viceroy ( Limenitis archippus ) mimicking the Monarch it isn't just one sex that does it. Both sexes mimic the Monarch and do so well that when they're flying especially you can't tell the difference.

So for only the females to do so is odd.....but there must be something to gain from this. But what? Well I'll try and look into that some other time.

Info sources listed below. Enjoy!!

Males patrol for receptive females. Females lay eggs singly on host leaves. Caterpillars eat leaves and rest on silken mats in shelters of curled leaves. Chrysalids overwinter.

The Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus) is a large (12 cm wingspan) swallowtail butterfly. It is found in the Eastern United States, as far north as southern Vermont, and as far West as extreme Eastern Colorado.

It flies from spring through fall, and most of the year in the southern portions of its range, where it may produce two or three broods a year.

Please note that there is more then one species of Tiger Swallowtail.

In the Appalachian region, it is replaced by the closely-related and only recently described larger-sized Papilio appalanchiensis, and in the north, it is replaced by the closely-related Papilio canadensis. These three species can be very difficult to distinguish, and were formerly all considered to be a single species.

There are two morphs of adult females, a yellow and a dark one. The yellow morph is similar to the male, except that the hind wings have an area of blue between the black margin and the main yellow area.

In the dark morph, most of the yellow areas are replaced with a dark gray to a black. A shadow of the "tiger stripes" can still be seen on the dark females. The dark form is more common in the Southern portions of the range, especially in areas also inhabited by the poisonous Pipevine Swallowtail, which it seems to mimic.

More on Tiger Swallowtails in general some other time. Enjoy this!


Butterflies and Moths of North America ( the site )

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