New Jersey Butterflies

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

Papilio glaucus

Identification: Very large—nearly 5" (much larger than Monarch). Above: FW and HW striking yellow and black. Black stripe along inner wings paralleling body (also visible below) is thinner than on Canadian Tiger. Females have blush of bright blue near base of tails. Below: Yellow and black colors more muted. Blue on females visible. Submarginal yellow line on FW is interrupted by black into separate spots (this line is continuous on Canadian). Dark individuals, which are always females, can range from dusky to nearly black, but in most cases a "ghost" tiger pattern is clearly visible on the undersides of the wings. Dark females resemble Spicebush and Black swallowtails but lack the inner band of orange spots on the underside of the HW.

NJ Status and Distribution: Resident. Common and widespread throughout.

Range Map-Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

Habitat: Open, sunny, upland fields and wet meadows. Easily attracted to gardens with flowers such as Butterfly Bush, Purple Coneflower, Wild Bergamot, and milkweeds.

Flight Period: Early April to mid-October with peaks in May to early June, and July to mid-August. The summer brood is usually far larger than the spring brood. Extreme dates: North Jersey 4/1—10/11; South Jersey 3/31—10/15.

Larval Food Plants: Black Cherry (Prunus serotina) and Tuliptree (Liriodendron tulipifera), both of which are common native trees of upland deciduous forests.

Overwintering Stage: Pupa.

Best Locations: Whittingham WMA, Schooley’s Mountain CP, Merrill Creek Reservoir, Willowwood Arboretum, Bamboo Brook, Great Swamp NWR, Kay Environmental Center, Belleplain SF, and Cape May Bird Observatory CRE Gardens.

Comments: Next to Monarch, one of our most recognizable and magnificent species. Dark females are most common in late summer but sometimes arrive in May/June.



Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

Male, Willowwood Arboretum, Morris Co., NJ, 8/4/07, on Field Garlic.


Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

Female, Fredon Twp., Sussex Co., NJ, 7/24/10, on Hoary Mountain-Mint.


Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

Female, Kittatinny Valley SP, Sussex Co., NJ, 8/13/11, on New York Ironweed.


Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

Watchung Res., Union Co., NJ, 8/21/12, on Field Thistle.


Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

Dark Female, Scherman-Hoffman Sanctuary, Somerset Co., NJ, 7/7/06, on Butterfly Bush.

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Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

Intermediate Female, Horseshoe Bend Preserve, Hunterdon Co., NJ, 7/31/13.


Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

Dark Female, Jenny Jump SF, Warren Co., NJ, 8/11/12, on Teasel.


Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

Dark Female, Fairview Farm, Somerset Co., NJ, 8/21/12, on Field Thistle.


Eastern Tiger Swallowtail larva and egg

First instar of Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (by thumb), and egg (top of of photo) on ornamental magnolia leaf.


Eastern Tiger Swallowtail larva

Middle instar larva of Eastern Tiger Swallowtail.


Tuliptree leaves

Leaves of Tuliptree (Liriodendron tulipifera). This common tree of upland forests is one of the main host plants of Eastern Tiger Swallowtail.