What is That … a Leopard or a Tiger?


Lions, tigers and bears, oh my!  Well, we do not have any lions but we do have a few tigers, leopards and bears amongst the wildlife we love so much at Three Mile Bay.

As we are sure you know by now, one of our favourite animals at the cottage is the Canadian tiger swallowtail butterfly.  We look hard for excuses to post another picture of this magnificent butterfly.  The wingspan of the Canadian tiger swallowtail ranges from 53 to 90 millimetres and it flies throughout much of Canada including occasionally in the arctic.  Once we learned about this butterfly, we have seen at least a few individuals each summer between the end of May and mid-July.  Perhaps our cottage neighbourhood is not adequate to support a large population given their preference for poplar and willow of which we have only a few.  We have chosen to show to you the following picture because it demonstrates that the under wing is as lovely as the dorsal view.

We see another tiger in the form of a caterpillar usually in August each year.  It is known more widely as the great tiger moth caterpillar.  (Some may refer to it as the garden tiger moth.) Unfortunately, we have seen the adult form of this moth only once perhaps because we do so little night time mothing.  The great tiger moth ranges throughout southern Canada, and like the Canadian tiger swallowtail feeds on poplar and willow.  Having said that, great tiger moth caterpillars clearly feed on a variety of plants, as we can see in the following photograph of one feeding on blueweed.

The last tiger for today is a tiger beetle, the six-spotted tiger beetle, a beautiful, shiny, bright green insect.  The wing covers (elytra) of this wonderful beetle are iridescent green.  Its powerful jaws make quick meals of the larval and adult stages of other insects including caterpillarsants, and spiders.  We see them most often in a sunlit patch at the edge of undergrowth.

The leopard we see most often at the cottage is the northern leopard frog. We remember them fondly from our childhood when we chased (harassed probably) them around and about our parents’ properties.  These brownish-greenish frogs are easy to identify with their round, brown spots arranged over their backs, sides and legs.  We do not know if the leopard frog pictured below just had a big lunch of crickets or earthworms, or is about to seek water where she would lay eggs.  Given this picture was taken in June, either is possible.

Two bears frequent the cottage.  Every child knows the woolly bear caterpillar, but we do not think the yellow bear caterpillar is as well known.  We see both crossing the road during the fall when temperatures are beginning to drop.  Why they risk these road crossings is puzzling considering we understand they are not picky eaters.  These two fuzzy cousins turn into different species of tigers … tiger moths that is.  The caterpillar below left is a yellow bear, while the one on the right is the well-loved woolly bear.

Much of what we have written in this article can be characterized as acquired knowledge.  Nevertheless, we could not resist some fact checking in Evans’ Beetles of Eastern North America; Wagner’s Caterpillars of Eastern North American; and, the ROM’s Amphibians and reptiles of Ontario.