One misunderstanding that comes up, more often than some might think, is that these are Monarchs. Although a quick look at pictures of swallowtails (yellow and black) and Monarchs (orange and black) quickly clears up this issue, I think the reason some people are confused is because Monarchs are so often talked about in public forums (media, classrooms, etc.) and swallowtails are large, widespread and very common, so people assume they must be the oft-mentioned Monarch. Although there are many things about the Monarch that make it special, I am often discouraged that it is held in such high regard while so many other equally or even more unique butterfly species are ignored. Not taking away from the Monarch, just wishing that more interest was shown in other species.
Swallowtails in our area can be divided into two groups: "black" swallowtails and "tiger" swallowtails. The first are generally known by their half black, half yellow wings, relatively short tails, and large red eyespot on the hindwing. The second are known by their familiar black tiger stripes on mostly yellow (or white) wings and longer tails. As larvae, black swallowtails primarily feed on plants in the parsley family, including desert parsley (Lomatium spp.) with the exception of the Oregon Swallowtail, which feeds only on tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus). Tiger swallowtails primarily feed on broadleaf trees such as willow, birch, aspen, and chokecherry. All swallowtails overwinter as a brown or green chrysalis.
Indra Swallowtails are mostly black and have the shortest tails of all these species. They only use a few species of Lomatium, and are usually found on rocky slopes and canyons on the east side of the Cascades.
|Black swallowtail group: Indra, Anise, and Oregon swallowtails.|
|Comparison between Anise and Oregon swallowtails|
|Tiger swallowtail group: Western, Two-tailed, and Pale tiger swallowtails.|