Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly – Black Female Form

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail – Black Female Form
Live butterflies photographed at Alpharetta, Georgia
Family Papilionidae — swallowtail butterflies
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Eastern Tiger Swallowtail
Eastern tiger swallowtail is the state butterfly of Georgia, Virginia, Alabama, South Carolina and Delaware
The black female form of the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail supposedly mimics the Pipevine swallowtail, and is most often seen in areas where the pipevine is active.

Found in the Eastern United States, as far north as southern Vermont, and as far west as eastern Colorado. 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. In the Appalachian region, it is replaced by the closely-related and only recently described larger-sized Papilio appalachiensis, 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.

Adult males are yellow, with four black "tiger stripes" on each fore wing. The trailing edges of the fore and hind wings are black which is broken with yellow spots. On the medial margin of the hind wing next to the abdomen there are small red and blue spots.


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.

Spherical green eggs are laid on the top of leaves of host plants. After hatching, the caterpillars often eat the shell of their egg. The first instars are dark and mimic bird droppings.  The larvae eat the leaves of a wide variety of trees, including cottonwood, tulip tree, lemon and cherry.


  1. Opler, Paul A., Butterflies and Moths of North America.
  2. National Audubon Society Field Guide to Insects & Spiders Chanticleer Press 1980
  3. Eric Eaton & Ken Kaufman, Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America,
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