What Do Tiger Swallowtail Butterflies Eat?

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As a butterfly, tiger swallowtails eat a wide variety of nectar from different plants; as caterpillars, they feed on willows, alders and cottonwood trees. Discover how the tiger swallowtail butterfly does not have a specific diet with information from an entomologist and insect specialist in this free video on butterflies.

Part of the Video Series: Insect Information
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Video Transcript

I'm Mike Quinn. I've been an entomologist for twenty years and we're here at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin, TX and I've been asked, "What do tiger swallowtails feed on?" The adult butterflies feed on nectar from a wide variety of plants. The caterpillars feed on a variety of woody plants, trees such as willows, alders, cottonwoods. So the caterpillar... even in the caterpillar stage they're something of a generalist and in the adult stage the swallowtails feed on a wide variety of nectar and there's actually two species of tiger swallowtails. There's an eastern and a western. But they have pretty much the same food requirements. And that's what a swallowtail... tiger swallowtail butterfly feeds on.

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