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tiger swallowtail caterpillar

Larval and nectar plants for the tiger swallowtail.

Here in Northeast Florida, the tiger swallowtail lays its eggs mostly on sweetbay magnolia, Magnolia virginiana, but has been known to use the tulip tree, Liriodendrum tulipifera. Butterfly want to lay their eggs on a good larval source, so the young have something to eat as soon as they emerge from the egg.

SwallowtailThe nectar plants of the tiger swallowtail are butterfly bush, cone flowers, milkweed, phlox, lilac, ironweed, and wild cherry – I’ve even seen them on my plumbago flowers. Some of these plants other butterflies will find beneficial too.

The larvae of the tiger swallowtail have a sad, lumbering face. Adult male butterflies are almost always yellow in color, but the female may be yellow to a blue-black. This is one of our largest butterflies with a wing span as wide as 5.5 inches. So, consider planting some larval or nectar plants in your yard or in the common areas of your subdivision and watch for these beautiful flying jewels.

One other thing to remember, do not use broad spectrum pesticides in your landscape if you want these creatures to thrive. By broad spectrum we mean carbaryl, malathion, neonicotinoids, etc. These are the active ingredients in the insecticides – there are plenty of companies and brand names selling them.  We all need to be more familiar with how to read the labels and look for the active ingredients.  If you are not sure about what chemicals to use – call me at 904 530-6351.  No reason to lure butterflies and native pollinators into the landscape only to kill them.  Yikes!