Ted’s essays


This guy has been visiting us lately … much to our visual and spiritual delight.

He is pretty shy, spotting me from over a dozen meters away, and flitting off. I had to zoom in with my magical Canon SX-710 from almost 20 meters to capture these photos.

We are all three so happy with how pretty our garden looks. It is wonderful to share it with this swallowtail, and for him to grace our garden with his beauty.

After reading a bit about their life cycle, I will be letting local milkweed and other beneficials grow a little more freely.

I was going to post interesting bits about the Monarch Butterfly, its amazing 4-stage, 4-generation annual life-cycle from Mexico and nearby SW USofA. However, closer inspection led me to conclude my recent, regular garden visitor is instead a Two-Tailed Swallowtail butterfly. Probably every bit as cool and interesting, but just a tad different.


Two-tailed Swallowtail (Papilio multicaudata)

This large yellow and black striped butterfly is truly a gift from nature. It has two tails and beautiful blue markings scaling across the hind wings. This butterfly is lovely and graceful, yet it is so rarely enjoyed up close and personal. In 2001, the Two-tailed Swallowtail made its way into history; it officially became the State Butterfly of Arizona. If you live in the western part of the United States, this butterfly would be a wonderful addition to any garden.

Family: Swallowtail (Papilionidae)

Subfamily: Swallowtail (Papilioninae)

Average Wingspan: 3 1/2″ – 5″

Habitat: Foothill slopes and canyons, moist valleys

Similar To: Eastern Tiger Swallowtail , Western Tiger Swallowtail

Plants That Attract This Butterfly

* May not be available for purchase at your local nursery.

Note: Always check a plant’s Hardiness Zone to make sure it will grow in your area. (What Is My Hardiness Zone?)

Where To Buy Plants

Butterfly Flight Range Map

Two-tailed Swallowtail Flight Range Map