Western Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio rutulus)

Western Tiger Swallowtail

Quick Facts

Common Names – Western Tiger Swallowtail
Scientific Name – Papilio rutulus Lucas
Family – Papilionidae
Host Plants – Leaves of cottonwood and aspen (Populus), willows (Salix), wild cherry (Prunus),ash (Fraxinus).
Wing Span – 2 3/4 – 4 inches (7 – 10 cm)

Common Description

The Western Tiger Swallowtail are butterflies that belong to the popular ‘swallowtail’ group that is well-known for their vibrant coloration and characteristic triangular wings. These are active butterflies that prefer sunny habitats and can also be seen puddling in the mud, flocking together in large numbers. This species can best be located in the summer, especially between June and July. It is similar to the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, distinguished by location. Another western species that is quite similar is the Pale Swallowtail.

Physical Characteristic

Yellow with four vertical, black stripes on upperside. Underside has two orange spots near the end of the inner margin


Western North America from British Columbia south to southern New Mexico and Baja California; east to western South Dakota and southeast Colorado. A rare stray to central Nebraska.

Conservation States

Not usually required


(western-tiger-swallowtail, n.d.)

Cover Photo by – Alan Schmierer

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