Anyone with siblings has heard/said “Mom always liked you best.” Out of all the bugs she has seen, photographed, researched, and written about, the BugLady likes Eastern Tiger Swallowtails, Papilio glaucus, best. The first brood of Tigers is sailing around her skyscapes, along with a good number of Giant Swallowtails (a Giant Swallowtail sitting on a candy-pink peony is just, plain over-the-top). Breathtaking!
Some tigers are dark, designed to fool predators into thinking that they are Pipevine Swallowtails in places where the two species overlap. Wisconsin is not one of those places. Pipevine Swallowtails are poisonous because their food plants are poisonous. Although the pipevine plant is not native to Wisconsin (some related plants are found in gardens here) and Pipevine Swallowtails are rare in the state, some female Tigers are the “dark morph.”
Brood I has it tough—they weather the winter and early spring as a chrysalis, hitched (stitched) to the base of a tree trunk, exposed to bitter cold by the lack of snow and chilled by long, cold, wet springs. Many die. And yet, here they are—looping through the air and instigating Brood II. Brood II has it relatively easy and will emerge in time to enjoy the cup plant and Joe-Pye Weed in mid-August. And the beat goes on.
Tiger Swallowtails are the definition of “perfect.”