Friday, March 20, 2009

Amazing Tiger Swallowtails

I'm sure most of you know that the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail has two forms of females, a dark form which in more common in the southeastern US and the yellow form which is quite more common. A lot of butterfly books don't mention this other form the intermediate form which is like a cross between the dark form and the yellow form. Some years I might see several thousand tiger swallowtails and not see a single intermediate form, other years one or two intermediate forms might show up.

Anyway I wanted to share with you a photo I took at the Little River Regional Park a few miles from here. below is all three forms of Eastern Tiger Swallowtail females in one photo!

Below is an example of the intermediate form female Eastern Tiger Swallowtail. All males are yellow BTW.

Below is a normal yellow female Eastern Tiger Swallowtail on peach blossoms, it is one of my favorite photos. I have sold a tons of this image on note cards.

Below is the dark form female Eastern Tiger Swallowtail on Swamp Milkweed. Notice the tiger striping seen on the sides if the hindwing, this makes it easy to tell from our other dark swallowtails like Spicebush Swallowtail, Black Swallowtail and Pipevine Swallowtail.

Below is a male Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, males can be told by the reduced blue cast in the lower portion of the hindwings. This butterfly is on wild plum flowers.

I know many of you might want to raise this butterfly in your garden. Below is a single egg I observed being ova positing on a Tulip Poplar sapling in the yard a few years ago.

Did I mention I'm just getting started here.

14 comments:

Heather said...

That must have seriously been your lucky day. Amazing to see all three at the same time. Great photo.
-Heather

Bangchik and Kakdah said...

Butterflies/moths are natural art being displayed.... beautiful!

Dave said...

Tiger swallowtails have always been a favorite of mine. We had quite a few of them around last year both the black and the striped.

Janet said...

This is a very interesting post. One I would have to reread a number of times (as in study it) for all of the details of the markings to be fixed in my brain! Love the button bush in the top pictures. I didn't know the dark form was still a Tiger Swallowtail. I do have a good number of Swallowtail caterpillars on my parsley. ---at least I think it is the Swallowtail!

gardenerprogress/Catherine said...

So pretty!

Gallicissa said...

This is a good guide for this Swallowtail. It is such a showy species that I have remember seeing a lot in the nature blogosphere. Your pictures are superb!

Just Jenn said...

I guess I'm one of the one's who didn't know. ::blushes:: Great shot of the three girls together! Hope you bought a lottery ticket that day too. ;^)

Kanak Hagjer said...

Stunning photos! And to get all three together too! LOVE all the photos.

P.S. I'm wondering how long it'll take me to get these kind of perfect shots....

Randy Emmitt said...

Jenn,

Your out west where the Western Tiger Swallowtail flies. I'm fairly certain it does not have a dark form at all.

Janet,

Your caterpillars are Black Swallowtails, so you were right.

sweet bay said...

Beautiful beautiful photos. I knew there was a black and yellow form, but did not know there was an intermediate form. Nor did I know that all males are yellow. I've seen some black Swallowtails that I had just assumed faded from the summer sun, but perhaps they were the intermediate color.

tina said...

I did not know there was an immediate form. I will be keenly observing them this summer for this immediate form. I would love to see it. You did great capturing all three!

Jan (Thanks For 2 Day) said...

Your photographs are perfect, Randy! I can't believe you could get all 3 of them together at once! How interesting to see them all. I photographed the one I have on my header just last summer. I love the swallotails. I've heard that they love parsley so I'm going to grow some of that near my butterfly bush, yarrow, dill, and many other plants/bushes that they're drawn to;-)

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