It's widely accepted that the Eastern tiger swallowtail was the first North American butterfly species to have been illustrated. John White - an artist and cartographer who was the governor of the Roanoke Island colony (that came to be known as the Lost Colony) - first drew the species in 1587 while on an expedition for Sir Walter Raleigh in Virginia.
The male is usually yellow with four black stripes on each wing. Females are usually yellow or black. You'll find them from spring to the fall, and usually around the edges of woods, in open fields, in gardens or by roadsides. They usually hang out around the tops of trees, but they like to drink from puddles on the ground (sometimes in large huddles or clusters).
North Carolina is in good company with this selection, as the states of Alabama, Delaware, Georgia, South Carolina, and Virginia have all chosen the Eastern tiger swallowtail as their official state butterfly or as their official state insect. North Carolina does have a separate state insect - the honey bee.
Check out the rest of North Carolina's state symbols.