Wisconsin has two common species of dark swallowtails—the Black Swallowtail and the dark morph female Eastern Tiger Swallowtail—and we host two dark species that are uncommon strays, the Pipevine and the Spicebush Swallowtail. The latter two are drifters whose caterpillar food plants are not native to Wisconsin. The natural habitats for this lovely wanderer include fields, parks, gardens, dappled woods, and edges from Central America through the southern U.S.
It’s time again for the Annual “Twelve Bugs of Christmas” event (and, coincidentally, episode #350 in the series, by the BugLady’s numbering). Here are a (Baker’s) dozen insects that will not be getting (or who have already had) their own BOTWs. Feel free to hum along, and have a lovely Holiday.
Eastern Tiger Swallowtails have two broods/generations each summer here. The first brood, which is airborne in May and June, is small in number, comprised of butterflies who survived the winter and early spring as a pupae in chrysalises.
Harvester Butterflies don’t stray far from the aphids that support their young because the adult feeds, not on flowers – its proboscis is too short to plumb the blossoms—but on the honeydew that collects on surfaces where aphids feed. their caterpillars eat meat, but not just any meat. Harvester caterpillars require wooly aphids, and Wooly Alder Aphids are a common host.
Skipper butterflies are small and hairy and quick. They are brown, brown and orange, or orange and brown, and they look pretty much alike to the BugLady. Skippers are summer strays to Wisconsin, the Fiery Skipper is rated as uncommon and the Common Checkered Skipper as rare. Their ranges lie in the southern half of the U.S. and along the Gulf Coast, but some individuals of each species vacation “Up North” each summer, even reaching Canada.
A handful of additional Bugs.
Duskywing and a Cloudywing Butterflies are sun-loving, chunky, hairy, small-sized, large-headed, often brown/brown-and-orange butterflies that are sometimes mistaken for moths. Like other butterflies, their antennae have club-shaped tips, but in most skippers the clubs have a tiny hook on the end.
Bog Coppers, also called Cranberry-bog Coppers, are with hairstreaks, coppers, and blues in the Gossamer-wing family Lycaenidae. They occur in a band across North America on either side of the Canadian border, as far south as northern Ohio/Pennsylvania/New Jersey, and Maryland, and never far from cranberry plants. They are extreme food specialists, the caterpillars eat only cranberry leaves.
Tiger Swallowtails have been split into three species. and the latter three groups of trees are food plants of the Canadian swallowtail, a northern species that was a subspecies of the Eastern Tiger swallowtail until 20 years ago are listed as eating aspens, birches and willows. By comparison, our other two swallowtails have narrower palettes. Their connection to plants in the carrot family has earned Black swallowtails the nickname of “Parsley swallowtail,” and Giant swallowtails are tied to plants in the citrus family.
Tiger Swallowtails are big butterflies. Canary-sized butterflies, with wingspreads approaching 5½”. The males are tiger-striped. Some of the females share that yellow and black coloration, and a tiger with an extra dollop of blue on the hind wings is likely to be a female.