Dozens of black-and-yellow Canadian Tiger Swallowtail butterflies (Papilio canadensis) have been “puddling” lately beside the outdoor water faucet near the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center. While they take most of their nourishment from flower nectar, Canadian Tiger Swallowtails—particularly the males—will often congregate at swallow puddles and other wet spots to gather salts and minerals, which are thought to enhance sperm reproductive success. (Other butterfly and moth species in the White Mountains can be found flocking around mossy seeps, rotting matter and scat.)
Canadian Tiger Swallowtails are generally found from northern New England up into Canada and west towards Alaska. Their caterpillars feed on aspen, black cherry and birch leaves. In southern New England, the larger Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus) predominates.
Text and Photo by P. Davenport
AMC Naturalist Guide