A tiger swallowtail

In central Pennsylvania, I’m likely to encounter an eastern tiger swallowtail (Papilio glaucus) from late spring through early fall, and that’s a true pleasure because it is a large and beautiful butterfly.

Although I’m just as likely to see one in my backyard, I encountered the tiger swallowtail below in the bordering game land, not too far inside of it either. (Yes, truly convenient for walking and photography.)

Eastern tiger swallowtail.

Sometimes I’d be walking along and see a tiger swallowtail approaching from the distance ahead. (Yes, they’re easy to see from a long ways away, relatively speaking.) I stop and wait. Will the swallowtail pause anywhere near me? That occasionally happens, but a tiger swallowtail intent on business can zoom by and disappear in the opposite direction. They’re strong flyers.

The reverse can also happen: The tiger swallowtail lands opposite me. Opportunity!

Eastern tiger swallowtail: profile.

Rarely – very rarely – a tiger swallowtail lands too close to me, and I cannot fit all the butterfly in the photo frame. That’s a form of irony, since I have to be careful (when backing away) as not to alarm the swallowtail. Any butterfly is sensitive to movement and will fly away in an instant.

Eastern tiger swallowtail: wings open.

This particular tiger swallowtail totally ignored me, and so I was free to take a variety of photos from every angle. True cooperation!

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