Tiger Swallowtail


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Tiger Swallowtail


Description: The Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly is one of about 550 species of Swallowtail butterflies. The name "swallowtail" comes from the two small posterior extensions that resemble the tail of a swallow (bird with forked tail). The swallow-like tail is thought to trick predators into thinking the tail end is actually the head. It is very common to observe these butterflies with a missing portion of the swallow-like tail, undoubtedly serving its purpose in protecting the butterfly.

The Swallowtail is one of our largest butterflies. Its wingspan can extend as far as 16 centimeters (about 6 inches). The male is pale yellow with four black "tiger" stripes on each wing. Some may have blue spots on the hind wings. In much of its range, female Tiger Swallowtails look completely different from males and are entirely black with blue and orange spots toward the tail region.

Range: The Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly ranges from southern New England throughout the east and Midwestern United States to the western Great Plains. The similar Western Swallowtail Butterfly is found in the western United States.

Life Cycle: The female lays round green eggs on the leaves of its host plants. When the eggs hatch, the larva immediately begins eating and will readily eat leaves from a variety of different plants, especially wild cherry leaves, willow, and cottonwood. The larva are said to resemble bird droppings. As the larva grow into caterpillars, they turn bright green and have a large set of false eyes toward the end of the thorax. The false eyes are black with yellow outlines. As the caterpillar grows, it molts (sheds exoskeleton) several times. When the caterpillar is ready for its metamorphosis, it spins a silk mat on a leaf (which causes a curl in the leaf) and forms its chrysalis. In about three weeks, the butterfly emerges.



Learn More About: Butterfly Anatomy | Butterfly Life Cycle



Butterflies Activities


Butterflies Home

This is the main index page for the MrNussbaum.com crickets section.

Virtual Butterfly Garden

Virtual Butterfly Garden Game

This fun game allows students to create nine of their own butterflies, release them in one of five habitats, and catch them with specialized butterfly nets (challenging!)



Use your addition or subtraction skills to help the caterpillar "mathemorphosize" to a beautiful butterfly. Each time you answer a math problem correctly, your caterpillar will chew up a leaf and get larger. If you keep answering questions correctly, your butterfly will form a cocoon (chrysalis) around itself until it bursts out as one of four different kinds of butterflies.


Butterfly Interactive Scavenger Hunt

Use my animated butterfly book to answer ten questions. Immediate feedback is given!

Butterfly story

Paper Wings Picture Story

This is a beautiful story about the the metamorphosis of a caterpillar to a butterfly. This story comes with lots of activities!

Reading Comprehension

Butterflies Reading Online Comprehension

This is an interactive, online reading passage with five multiple choice questions. Immediate feedback is given and students can print out achievement certificates.

Printable Reading

Butterflies Printable Reading Comprehension

This is a printable version of the online reading comprehension exercise.

Cloze Reading

Butterflies Cloze Reading

This is an interactive cloze reading exercises. Students must use the words from the word bank to complete the butterfly-themed passage. Immediate feedback is given.

Word Search

Butterflies Word Search

Find as many cricket-themed words as possible in this challenging, online word search.


Butterflies Jigsaw

This is a fun, customizable online cricket jigsaw puzzle perfect for any age.


Butterfly Profiles

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