One year when we attended the Allegany Nature Pilgrimage, it was impossible to pass an entire hour without seeing a Tiger Swallowtail.
I’ve been seeing them around here for a couple of weeks now, so I anticipate there will be lots at Allegany State Park where the pilgrimage is held every year on the weekend after Memorial Day. Since the naturalists are expected to know everything about everything (hahaha) I thought I better read up on this beautiful species. Here’s what I’ve learned so far:
Wikipedia also suggests that the dark morph protects the female from predation because it resembles the poisonous Pipevine Swallowtail, which probably doesn’t do it much good up here in the northeast. The Pipevine is a southern species!
Speaking of protection from predation, the early instars of the caterpillar look like bird poop. Who would want to eat that??
Later instars get all green and bulky and have spots that resemble eyes. The last instar just before pupation is brown. Check out this photo by Tom LeBlanc:
The caterpillars eat tree leaves from several species of trees including black cherry and willow among others. Adults sip nectar from flowers. There will be two broods of these lovelies up here in the north, three down south. The chrysalis is the part that overwinters.
I’m sure I’ll have no trouble spotting adults at the pilgrimage. But now that I know so much about the other life stages, I’ll be keeping my eyes open for them! Wouldn’t it be cool to come across a cat or chrysalis?