Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly at Phipps Conservatory

Tiger Swallowtail butterfly photographed by Jeffrey Zablow at Phipps Conservatory,  Pittsburgh

Is the butterfly 100% intact? Have they (birds, lizards, snakes, flies, wasps, darners, beetles….) bitten away any of her magnificent wing plumage? No. Good. Flying just days after exiting her chrysalis.

How can you know that it’s a female? The blue splashes on both of her hind wings assure us that our Tiger is a tigress, leisurely working the Outdoor Gardens of the Phipps Conservatory in my city of Pittsburgh.

Swallowtails employ different types of strategies when they nectar on  wildflowers. Some, like the Eastern Black Swallowtail, flap their wings furiously, bedeviling photographers who are trying to capture a good image of them. Papilio glaucus shown here are much easier to shoot. They briefly pause at especially generous flowers, and that is when you shoot, shoot, shoot!

Female Eastern tigers are among the largest of all of the butterflies in the U.S.. They are also found throughout the eastern United States. Why? are they so widespread? Just as McDonalds feeds Americans in every state east of the Mississippi River, Eastern tigers are generalists, adapted to nectar at many, many different wildflowers, and able to safely and successfully deposits their eggs on a great variety of host plants. She would prefer to lay those eggs on wild cherry trees, tulip trees and ash, but many others will do just fine.

An exquisite butterfly, very common and very adaptable. Impressive, eh?


3 thoughts on “Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly at Phipps Conservatory

  1. Jeff, what an exquisite photo! Thank you for the great information on the Eastern Swallowtails. We had a flock(?) of them in our butterfly garden this year, a source of endless amusement and happiness. I appreciate you adding a link to my site. Best wishes, WG


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