How To Lose Your Mind in the Florida Panhandle

Palamedes Swallowtail Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow in Big Bend Wildlife Management Area, Florida's Panhandle

This northern boy arrived in the Florida Panhandle, and was immediately greeted by Palamedes Swallowtails, lots of them. Here in Big Bend Wildlife Management Area, you see them every few minutes. That’s fun for me, accustomed as I am to seeing swallowtails in Pennsylvania maybe once every 45 minutes, if that.

Papilio palamedes are big butterflies. They fly with a slow, difficult to predict manner. They sip on nectar actively, especially with thistle and other nectar pumping flowers. Photographing these very large butterflies as they sip nectar from blooms is a challenge. They move their wings almost non-stop. Lacking good dorsal (super view) face-time, you perk up when you see one like this, standing motionless on the trail. What a great photograph that will be. Uh, well . . .

Making an approach to a Palamedes on the trail is a Good Way To Lose Your Mind. No sooner than you are the 10 feet away: Bye! bye! There’s a human!  This cycle repeated itself, day after day. This butterfly is not bird-struck, and still fresh. So having learned my lesson, I shot photographs from a distance, and am happy to share them with you.


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