Western Tiger Swallowtail Life Cycle
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.