A Tiger in Your Garden

The "Tiger King" has nothing on the Western Tiger Swallowtail.

The colorful yellow and black butterfly, Papilio rutulus, reigns supreme. We saw this one last week at the Ruth Storer Garden in the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden. 

"The Western Tiger Swallowtail is basically a species of riparian forest, where it glides majestically back and forth along the watercourse," writes butterfly guru Art Shapiro, UC Davis distinguished professor of evolution and ecology, on his website. "It has expanded into older urban neighborhoods where several of its host genera are grown as shade trees, and behaves as if the street were a watercourse. In the high country and on the Sierran east slope its usual host is Aspen."

We've seen it glide majestically and forage on everything from Verbena to lilacs (Syringa) to the butterfly bush (Buddleja). What a treat--especially during the coronavirus pandemic! When you visit the Arboretum, keep your social distance and wear facial masks, per the Yolo County Health Department's current precautions.)

Meet the real Tiger King: the Western Tiger Swallowtail.