Nature: Butterflies and Moths

Tiger Swallowtail 虎凤蝶 (Family Papilionidae, Swallowtails)

This glorious creature attracts the eye of everyone. The female usually has a thicker abdomen than the male, but male and female are approximately alike in coloring. It ranges over most of North America, its strong wings carrying it everywhere.

The Tiger Swallowtail is a common sight in most gardens and city parks. It is a swift flyer, but easily captured when drinking nectar from flowers. At such times an ecstacy seems to creep over its body so that it actually quivers with delight. It is abundant from early spring to late fall. Sometimes it seems to dance with swift up and down movements that carry it up and over trees or houses at a single hop. It is attracted by the nectar of many flowers and, if watched closely, the long curled tongue can be seen to uncurl and extend down into the flower depths.

The egg is deep green in color, shaped like a partially flattened tennis ball, and found on the underside of the leaf of the food plant. The caterpillar changes from medium green to dark green as it grows older (it is lighter on the undersides). The two large eye spots are apparently for protective purposes to frighten enemies. It feeds on willow, popular, hop and alder, often curling the leaves over with a silken thread so as to remain hidden. Length when full-grown, about 1 3/4 inches. The chrysalis is dark brown in color, the surface pebbly in texture. It is hung under loose bark, in tree crotches, house eaves and so forth. You may often walk by one without seeing it.

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