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Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly
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Tiger Swallowtail butterfly
These butterflies are called swallowtails because they have long "tails" on their hindwings which look a bit like the long, pointed tails of swallows (a type of bird).
|Egg: A butterfly starts its life as an egg. The female Tiger Swallowtail butterfly lays its spherical, yellow-green eggs on the leaf high in a tulip tree, sweet bay, wild black cherry, ash, lilac, aspen=, birch, or choke cherry. When the egg hatches, its meals (the leaves of one of these plant) are easily available.|
|Caterpillar: The larva (caterpillar) hatches from an egg and eats the egg shell. Then it eats leaves (almost constantly). The newly-hatched larva is brown and white, and looks like bird droppings, but it turns green later. The caterpillar molts (loses its old skin) many times as it grows. The caterpillar is plump, smooth, and green with large yellow eyespots" that have black "pupils." There is a yellow and black stripe where its "neck" should be. The larva lives in a nest that it makes high in the trees by folding a leaf over and securing it with silk. It grows to be up to about 2 inches (5 cm) long. Just before pupating, it sometimes turns brown.|
|Pupa: It turns into a pupa (chrysalis); this is a resting stage. As the body transforms into a butterfly, it neither eats nor drinks.|
Some females are dark, mimicking the poisonous Pipevine Swallowtail
|Adult: A beautiful, flying adult emerges. There is no growth during this stage, but the butterfly will sip nectar. This adult will continue the cycle by reproducing. Females produce two broods in the north, three in the south.
Wings have distinctive yellow and black stripes. Some females (especially in the south) are much darker, mimicking the poisonous Pipevine butterfly.
Tiger Swallowtails drink sweet flower nectar, especially nectar from the pink flowers of the shrub abelia.
PROTECTION FROM PREDATORS
Caterpillar: The caterpillar is camouflaged to look like bird droppings when it is very young. Later, it develops distinctive eyespots, which make it look like a snake, scaring off some predators.
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