Tiger Serpent of the forest
Today we come across this yellow eyed serpent that lives in the forest. We found this guy while hiking along the North Country Trail here in Allegany State Park with a group of people (Thanks Lynn for finding him). This was my first time seeing any serpent like this before and to be honest . . . . I thought it looked just like Barney the Dinosaur (can you hear the music yet?).
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Caterpillar
Ok . . . . this really isn’t any serpent creature and it is only a few inches in length. This is the caterpillar of the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail and very exciting find for everyone. When disturbed they pull their head close to their body (forming its serpent head) and then waves back and forth to intimidate their predators (which you can see in the video below).
The Eastern Tiger Swallowtail is one of the most commonly known butterflies here in the East Coast and found along large fields of deciduous forests (sometimes in gardens). Their diet consists of the leaves from Black Cherry, Birch, Aspen and even the Tulip Tree. I was reading that some of their earlier instars give the caterpillars the appearance of bird scat (like the Spicebush Swallowtail)! I have seen a few photos of the later instars being bright green and then the caterpillars last instar turning brown in color! This individual was traveling along the forest floor and probably looking for a location to transform into its pupa stage (to emerge as an adult in the spring).
The adult Eastern Tiger Swallowtail is commonly seen grouping together along mud puddles “puddling” or obtaining nectar from multiple flower types. They are yellow in color, with 4 black tiger stripes going down their wings. They also have some blue coloring on the hind wing. Some females can be found in the black form which they are trying to mimic the Pipevine Swallowtail. Even though these guys are not tigers or even any serpents of the forest . . . . they are certainly one of my favorite butterflies of the forest!
”Puddling” Eastern Tiger Swallowtail