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Tennessee State Butterfly
Zebra Swallowtail Butterfly
Adopted in 1995.
The Zebra Swallowtail, (Eurytides marcellus,) was designated as Tennessee's official butterfly by Public Chapter 896 of the 99th General Assembly in 1995. This beautiful, winged insect has black and white stripes that run the length of its body with red and blue spots on its lower back. The swallowtail grows from a tiny egg into a caterpillar that eventually molts into its pupal stage and is transformed into this striking butterfly that can be found throughout most of the United States. This butterfly was chosen by students from Gallatin mostly because it lays it's eggs in a southern favorite the PawPaw and other similar Annonaceae. This beautiful butterfly has black and white stripes that run the length of its body and is found mainly in rural areas.
Tennessee State Butterfly: Zebra Swallowtail Butterfly
The Zebra Swallowtail (Eurytides marcellus) is Tennessee’s state butterfly and is found throughout the eastern U.S.
These butterflies have stripes like zebras, and tailed wings, like swallows with red and blue spots on the lower back. A striking butterfly that can be found throughout most of the United States. The caterpillars of this species eat only one kind of plant – pawpaw (Asimona spp.), and as a result this butterfly is a common sight where there are large groves of this plant. In other areas, they are spotted only occasionally, but are hard to mistake when they do appear. No other butterfly in our part of the country has the distinct black and white markings and long tails
Characteristics of the Tennessee Zebra Swallowtail Butterfly
2 1/2 - 4 inches (6.4 - 10.4 cm). They are called swallowtails because they have long "tails" on their hindwings which look a bit like the long, pointed tails of swallows (a type of bird).
Upper surface of wings with black stripes on pale whitish-green background; hindwings have very long tails. Early-spring form is smaller and lighter colored.
Adult males fly in the understory near host plants to find females. Females lay single green eggs on lower leaves of host plant. Caterpillars live and feed on the underside of these leaves, then pupate and hibernate there.
Moisture from sand and nectar from flowers including blueberry, blackberry, lilac, redbud, viper's bugloss, verbena, dogbane, and common milkweed.
Breeds in moist low woodlands near swamps and rivers. Adults fly to nectar plants in open fields and brushy areas.
The zebra swallowtail is widely distributed from southern New England west to southern Minnesota and south to eastern Texas and Florida.
Tennessee Code Annotated, title 4, chapter 1, part 3, section 4 -1-319
TITLE 4. STATE GOVERNMENT.
Butterflies, and Bugs
State insects are selected by 45 states of the 50 United States. Some states have more than one designated insect, or have multiple categories (e.g., state insect and state butterfly, etc.). More than half of the insects chosen are not native to North America, because of the inclusion of three European species (European honey bee, European mantis, and 7-spotted ladybug).