Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly (Dark Form)

Tiger swallowtail Butterfly ( Black Form) photographed in Eastern Neck National Wildlife refuge, MD

She is nectaring methodically in the morning sun at Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge in Rock Hall, Maryland. August is a bountiful month for butterflies. Wildflowers have ended their effort to produce flowers, but that’s half the story. Other genera of wildflowers have taken over, producing rich lodes of sugary/protein-rich mixtures. Papilio glaucus (Dark form) has chosen to fly in from the surrounding Refuge acreage to do her shopping, so to speak in Dave’s full perennial beds.

Those wings. Do they evoke a cape? The form of a Wright brothers early airborne prototype? Are they nearly outsized for her body? If they are outsized, how do they get this butterfly airborne? Have they in fact mimiced the coloration of the toxic-tasting wings of the Pipevine swallowtail butterfly (Battus philenor)? If they earn predator avoidance, how do/did those birds, reptiles and insects learn this behavior? Are there not dozens of bird species in this same Refuge that would enjoy eating this defenseless butterfly?

Winter here in the U.S. will end soon. Where are these butterflies at this time? Did you know the answer to this puzzler? They overwinter as pupae, hidden in tree hollows, wood piles, and perhaps between the timbers beneath your deck. Lucky you.

If by now you are thinking that wingedbeauty.com has posted another image of this butterfly recently, you’re correct. Just as a jewelry catalog presents different views of gems, we present different views of winged beauties.

Jeff