Miss Sherry - another swallowtail ?

mboston_gwJuly 28, 2011

Monkeybelle's ? spurred me to post these pictures. I was actually sorting pics that I have taken over the last year and trying to put them in correct species folders on my computer. These two were in two folders cause I questioned whether the butterfly was a Spicebush, which I now doubt, or the dark form of a Tiger, which I have never seen before in my yard (the tiny orange spots make me think is it one). What is throwing me is the underside doesn't quite look like a Spicebush but I can't find the underside of the dark Tiger. Of course you can't see the orange spots on the side in the top photo as you can in the bottom one.

The third pic is definitely one I raised as its on the cage.

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Eastern Tiger Swallowtail-Black

    Bookmark   July 28, 2011 at 9:22AM
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One way to tell is the solid black body. Also, the tight line of blue dots on the under wing... since you usually can't see the orange spots when they are about in the garden.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2011 at 9:29AM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

The first two pictures are of a black form female tiger swallowtail, Mary. You can even see the tiger stripes on the underside in the second picture.
The third picture is a female spicebush swallowtail. The large lunules on the hindwings, also the curvier body, as opposed to the kite-like shape of the tiger, and the distribution of the blue are the keys to her ID.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2011 at 9:50AM
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Thanks to both of you. Yeah, I will have to make a subfile for the Black form of Tiger. I don't recall ever seeing one before in our area. Tigers come through my yard but I don't have any host plants so they nectar and move on. Are the black forms generally smaller than the yellow ones which are so big? Of course I do have Pipevine all over and do see Pipevine Swallowtails from time to time. Maybe there have been more and I just missed Id'd them. Amazing that two of the same species could look so different. Mother Nature is incredible, isn't she!

    Bookmark   July 28, 2011 at 2:19PM
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I get these 2 mixed up a lot, also.

I really appreciate the extra hints, such as 1)the curvier body on the Spicebush as opposed to the straight body on the Tiger, 2)the bigger/flater kite shaped wings on the Tiger as opposed to the Spicebush wings being smaller and more cut/curvy shaped. Am I reading that right? Please correct me if I'm wrong.

Just a couple more questions to clarify my muddled brain:

1) The Spicebush has white dots on the body and the dark form Tiger body is solid black?
2)The lunules are the white spots at the bottom end of the hind wing?
The Spicebush has bigger, brighter, more defined lunules than the dark form Tiger?

Sherry, I saw on another post that you recommend the book 'Butterflies of North America' by Brock & Kaufman.

Is that your 'go to' book to help identify a butterfly?

I bought the book 'The Life Cycles of Butterflies' and love it, but sometimes they don't have enough pictures of, or information about, various butterflies so that I can positively ID a butterfly.

DH and I were going back and forth - back and forth on the pages of my book trying to ID a couple of pictures I had taken of butterflies on my butterfly bush.

The body in the one you can see is straight and not spotted, wings are flat/kite-like and the lunules are small or almost non-existent...So... I think it is a dark form Tiger.

I will try to post my pics on another thread.

Thanks for helping me learn more.


    Bookmark   July 30, 2011 at 2:59PM
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Ament(5a SD)

Beautiful, Just beautiful. I love them! I can't wait to share pictures of the Monarch I'm waiting for it to eclose.(new word for me that!) I'm always amazed by butterflies. :)

    Bookmark   July 30, 2011 at 3:08PM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

Betty, you've got it right. Tigers are shaped like kites, and their lunules are sort of small and creamy colored, not really noticeable. The lunules on spicebush swallowtails are big and mint green when they first emerge, but they fade as the butterfly ages to a sort of blah color. lunules of both are on both the hindwings and forewings.
If you see a big black swallowtail with a totally black, cigar-shaped body, you know right away it's a black female tiger. Spicebush swallowtails have spotted bodies, like black swallowtails, plus they're smaller in size.
I have quite a few field guides, and my favorite is the Brock and Kaufman book. The pictures combine photography with painting to make all parts of the butterfly easy to see - in pictures, parts of the body are usually hidden by the butterfly itself. They also have little arrows on the pictures that point to the keys to IDing the butterfly, like an arrow points to the 'bloodshot eyes' of black swallowtails.
The life cycle book is wonderful, but for IDing butteflies, I like the Brock and Kaufman book best - I have it here on my computer desk.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2011 at 7:30PM
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Barnes & Noble ordered the Field Guide for me today.

I can't wait to get it! I need all of the help I can get.

Thanks again,

    Bookmark   July 31, 2011 at 10:22PM
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