Including Western Tiger Swallowtail butterfly habitat into the new design for San Francisco's Market Street.
The Western Tiger Swallowtail butterfly (Papilio rutulus) has found a home on San Francisco’s Market Street, living a complete life cycle in the London Plane trees that line the busy thoroughfare. The canyon of tall buildings lined with trees resembles the butterfly’s natural habitat – river canyons. When the city proposed a redesign for Market Street, the plan involved removing many of these trees. The Tigers on Market Street project was born to tell the story of this butterfly and its habitat. In 2013, the Tigers on Market Street project was invited by the City of San Francisco to participate in the redesign process, and to experiment with the design of San Francisco’s civic spine.
This project engages the public in this unique butterfly phenomenon, creates methods for creative interactions, and connects people to wildlife in one of the densest urban areas. Some of our plans may include field stations at the Embarcadero and Civic Center to serve as entry points to the route with butterfly overlooks, mobile classrooms, and exhibition stations for an iNaturalist based citizen science project focused on the butterfly. The route between these two stations would include butterfly habitat landscaping, classes, tours, bicycle rides, and other public programming.
These flowers release nectar at low temperatures (just right for San Francisco) and are big so that larger butterflies, like the Western Tiger Swallowtail, can easily land on them to drink. It is very important to select heirloom varieties that have not been treated with pesticides.