Maine Tigers on the Wing

ArrayJune 22, 2020 at 3:02 pm

By Wildlife Biologist Phillip deMaynadier

Canadian tiger swallowtail. Photo by Roger Rittmaster

The springtime appearance of the Canadian tiger swallowtail (Papilio canadensis) is a welcome sign of the warmer weather to come in Maine. This butterfly has a strong, direct flight, and is often seen coursing through backyard gardens and along woodland edges at a rapid pace. Named for their bright yellow color and black stripes, tiger swallowtails appear to be especially abundant this year, with dozens of recent social media posts applauding their presence statewide.

Did you know that there are seven swallowtail species in Maine and that the Canadian tiger swallowtail is just one of 118 breeding resident and visiting butterfly species? MDIFW recently completed an assessment of the distribution and status of the state’s butterflies with the help of hundreds of citizen scientists. This project will inform conservation efforts for Maine’s eight threatened and endangered butterfly species and will serve as a baseline for monitoring population changes into the future, for example as a result of climate change.

Click here to learn more about Maine’s butterfly fauna.