Western Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly

Western Tiger Swallowtail Life Cycle

Western Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly-western-tiger-swallowtail-butterfly-on-lantana-plant
Western tiger swallowtail

The western tiger swallowtail butterfly is native to western North America, this butterfly is commonly seen in woodlands, sagelands, meadows, near streams, and rivers, parks, suburbs, gardens, oases, canyons, creeks, roadsides, and wooded suburbs. These butterflies are very active and love sunny locations.

They love to flock together in large numbers puddling in the mud, when the time nears for courtship the males can be seen patroling hilltops or canyons. The western tiger swallowtail is yellow with black stripes and its appearance is similar to that of the eastern swallowtail butterfly. Their location however will help in identifying them or telling them apart.

Nectar plants For the western swallowtail butterfly

The host plants of the western swallowtail butterflies include poplars, willows, cottonwood, alders, zinnia, thistles, yerba santa, abelia, aspens, California buckeye, and ashes. Once mating is completed the female lays her eggs singly on the surface or atop the host plant. After 4 t0 1o days the eggs hatch.

The caterpillar or larval stage

The larval stage of the western swallowtail butterfly can be anywhere from 3 to 4 weeks and begins feeding on the leaves of the host plants. The caterpillar molts 5 times and can reach a maximum length of 5 cm.

Fork glands that are known as osmeterium protrude from the caterpillar’s head, if the caterpillar believes it’s in danger it will release these glands and emit a foul odor to repel predators.

Chrysalis or pupil stage

This caterpillar enters the chrysalis stage for about  10 to 20 days, the chrysalis is light brown in appearance with golden spots. From the ventral side, ten black spines protrude, the thorax is curved distinctly and the antennae have multiple short black spines.

Adult butterfly stage

After 6 to 14 days a beautiful butterfly emerges, once adulthood is reached this butterfly has a short life span surviving less than a month before it makes way for the next generation

The final word on the western tiger swallowtail butterfly

The western tiger swallowtail butterfly has a very short life span, these butterflies are very sociable and make the best of their short time here. The western swallowtail is also popular especially for its amazing colors so if you ever cross paths with them stop for while and enjoy the beauty they display for a short time but can create lasting memories.



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About the author

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Norman loves being in the garden, both at home and for his job....
he is 'Natures Little helper' being outdoors, growing his vegetables and flowers from an early age.
Now having spent over 22 years in the profession he want to give some of his knowledge to others...
his vast array of hints and tips you will find scattered over this site will help you no end growing plants in your garden.

5 thoughts on “Western Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly”

  1. Wow, learning about the western tiger swallowtail butterfly is fascinating. It’s sad to learn that, like many insects, they can only live for a month. However, as you mentioned, they appear to make the best of the limited time they have. My main concern is whether or not they fall within the category of insects.
    Great article.

  2. Hi Norman what a beautiful butterfly. Living in the UK means we hardly ever see the same species of butterfly together in one place. It is sad that like all butterflies they aren’t around too long. I must admit I am not a great fan of the caterpillar stage 

    Love the article 



  3. Thank you for listing their host plants. I’m living now on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington, and have been trying to figure out what plants they need.


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