Western Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly
Taxonomic Hierarchy Photo
Kingdom: Animalia -- animal
Phylum: Arthropoda -- arthropods
      Subphylum: Hexapoda -- hexapods
Class: hexapoda -- insects


Pterygota -- iwinged insects
           Infraclass: Neoptera -- modern, wing-folding insects
Order: Lepidoptera -- butterflies, moths
Superfamily: Papilionoidea -- butterflies
      Family: Papilionidae -- swallowtails
           Subfamily: Papilioninae
Tribe: Papilionini
Genus: Papilio

Papilio rutulus

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United States Range Map


California Range Map

Adult Sexes Similar

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Identification:   Life history:
Upperside of hindwing with upper-most marginal spot yellow or lacking. Underside of forewing with separate yellow spots forming marginal band. Hindwing has narrow marginal spots and no orange tint except for 2 spots near end of inner margin.   Males patrol canyons or hilltops for receptive females. Females lay eggs singly on surface of host plant leaves. Caterpillars feed on leaves and rest on silken mats in shelters of curled leaves. Chrysalids hibernate.
Flight:   Wing Span:
One flight from June-July.   2 3/4 - 4 inches (7 - 10 cm).

Caterpillar Hosts:

  Adult Food:
Leaves of cottonwood and aspen (Populus), willows (Salix), wild cherry (Prunus), and ash (Fraxinus).   Nectar from many flowers including thistles, abelia, California buckeye, zinnia, and yerba santa.
Habitat:   Season:
Woodlands near rivers and streams, wooded suburbs, canyons, parks, roadsides, and oases.   June-July (one flight) in much of range, but much of year (2-4 flights) along Pacific coast.
Remarks:   Conservation:
    Not usually required.

NatureServe Global Status:  G5 - Demonstrably secure globally, though it may be quite rare in parts of its range, especially at the periphery.

Management needs: None noted.

Sources used to Construct this Page:  

Additional Photos

Adult Sexes Similar


All photos 2008 Rick Swartzentrover - Free for non-profit use.

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Global ranks indicate the rarity of a species at a global scale. Species may be fairly common globally but imperiled locally. Global ranks have the following meaning:

  • G1 - Critically Imperiled - At very high risk of extinction due to extreme rarity (often 5 or fewer populations), very steep declines, or other factors.
  • G2 - Imperiled - At high risk of extinction due to very restricted range, very few populations (often 20 or fewer), steep declines, or other factors.
  • G3 - Vulnerable - At moderate risk of extinction due to a restricted range, relatively few populations (often 80 or fewer), recent and widespread declines, or other factors.
  • G4 - Apparently Secure - Uncommon but not rare; some cause for long-term concern due to declines or other factors.
  • G5 - Secure - Common; widespread and abundant.
  • * ? or Q = status unknown or uncertain