State Butterfly And Late Lantana Rally

Lantana and Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus), Female

In trying to precisely identify this swallowtail, I discovered my state of North Carolina selected the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus) as its official state butterfly in mid-June of 2012. After such a rancorous session, who knew what the legislature was really up to? I will not comment on the livermush part of the bill.

This North American native butterfly species is quite commonly found across the entire eastern United States. It has adapted to many host plants and to a wide range of habitats, including, of course, gardens.

There are many interesting things to know about these butterflies. Males are usually yellow. Females are dimorphic and can be yellow or black. When the female is yellow, its upper hindwing is more bluish (so I assume this is a female).

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus), Female

Here is one fact that may not be well-known.  The Eastern Tiger Swallowtail is:

generally considered the first North American butterfly to have been drawn. The first drawing of it was by John White. White was an artist, cartographer, and is also known as the governor of the Roanoke Island colony that came to be known as the “Lost Colony.”[1]

In this garden yesterday the native Eastern Tiger Swallowtail was attracted to a non-native plant. It fed on the nectar of Lantana camera.

Lantana and Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)

Though reported to be drought-tolerant, a few weeks ago this lantana appeared to be completely dried up.  Since then there have been fierce storms, intense days of triple-digit heat and more storms. Though sprawled and splayed after such abuse this shrub is rallying with bright, cheery flower clusters of red, pink, orange and yellow.

Lantana camera


1. Michelle Czaikowski Underhill (2012). “Eastern tiger swallowtail” . NCPedia. Retrieved  July 28, 2012.

10 thoughts on “State Butterfly And Late Lantana Rally

  1. Christina

    Loved seeing your Swallowtail, slightly different to the 2 varieties we have here, Scarce, which is actually the more common here, and the basic swallowtail species. They are beautiful and you captured yours beautifully, I have white Lantana in pots and they suffer the heat but survive. Christina

    1. pbmgarden Post author

      Thanks Christina! I was able to find pictures of the Scare Swallowtail–it is an interesting one. Bet the white lantana is very fine. I would like the white. I’ve seen a lot of new colors introduced lately (mostly too pastel for my preference), and I may be wrong but I don’t think the newer hybrids are hardy in my area. This lantana is 11 years old and gets to be about 4 feet tall and maybe 5 feet wide, bigger than I’d planned.

  2. sandy

    You sure got some great photographs of the swallowtail. It is also in good shape. The last one through here was so battered I don’t know how it stayed in the air.

    You garden looks nice and green for such a dry year.

    1. pbmgarden Post author

      Thanks Sandy. I was chasing that butterfly all over the place. The last one I’d photographed was tattered and torn, so it was nice to see one in good condition.

      After long periods of no rain we are now getting strong, frightening storms several times a week. The garden still looks pretty much past its prime but a few things are greening up again. The lantana was brown and dry with no blooms a few weeks back, so I’m happy it is going strong again.

  3. P&B

    Lovely Lantana! It’s great that you can grow them in the garden and it grows to 4 feet tall. Mine have to stay in the pots and be confined in the basement in winter. I can’t vouch for the drought tolerant but they are hard to kill. They also do pretty ok with minimal light. They bloom in the basement all winter, not profusely as when they are outside but never stop blooming.


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