In June of 2015, Governor Greg Abbott signed a resolution designating Jasper, Texas as the Butterfly Capital of Texas. Although the resolution was passed because of the community’s efforts to help conserve the Monarch Butterfly, which passes through Jasper as one of the three major flyways for migration in the Fall, the resolution designated Jasper as the Butterfly Capital — not the Monarch Capital — of Texas. The Monarch is stunning, and important — it’s been designated as the State Insect of Texas. But since we are simply the Butterfly Capital, I think we should capitalize on some of the other gorgeous species that are indigenous to our Deep East Texas county.
By far the most stunning, in my opinion, is the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, scientifically known as Papilio glaucus. Black tiger stripes on its forewings makes the common name easy to remember when you see it gathering nectar Spring through Fall, with a preference for red and pink flowers.
The Eastern Tiger Swallowtail can be seen throughout Eastern North America, and utilizes a number of host plants. Two of those hosts are very common in Jasper County — Sweetbay Magnolia (Magnolia virginiana) and Black Cherry (Prunus serotina). They lay their eggs on the leaves of these host plants, and the caterpillar eats the leaves before that magical transformation into a butterfly.