Summer Swallowtails

With the arrival of warmer weather comes the swallowtails of summer. This weekend I got a great look at one of my first Western Tiger Swallowtails (Papilio rutulus) of the year sunning itself on a hedge at Miracle Beach. The crispness of the wings and bright colour were stunning in the late afternoon sun.

Western Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio rutulus)
A bright Western Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio rutulus) suns itself on a hedge in Black Creek, BC.

Three swallowtails are possible on Vancouver Island: the Western Tiger Swallowtail, the Pale Swallowtail, and the Anise Swallowtail. All are very different in appearance and once you’ve seen all three you’ll be asking yourself why you never noticed the differences before. The two that are likely confused are the Western Tiger and the Pale – they look very similar, but the Pale is a lighter shade of yellow, almost white. The Anise is quite different showing an almost solid black leading edge of the wing.

Compare the photo above with a Pale Swallowtail (Papilio eurymedon) that Jocie photographed in the same garden a couple of years ago.

Pale Swallowtail (Papilio eurymedon)
The Pale Swallowtail (Papilio eurymedon) looks very similar but is a much paler shade of yellow, almost cream, in colour.

Keep an eye out for these beautiful butterflies – it looks like this summer is in with a tiger!