Who Invented The Giant?

Giant Swallowtail butterfly on tithonia, photographed by Jeff Zablow at "Butterflies and Blooms in the Briar Patch," Eatonton, GA

You’re in the Butterflies and Blooms in the Briar Patch Habitat, some 814 miles from Times Square, New York, New York. Platoons of Cloudless Yellow Sulphurs are everywhere, American Lady’s abound, Sleepy Oranges are anything but, Carolina Satyrs patrol the lower strata, and Swallowtails busily work the tens of thousands of blooms. Spicebush, Black, Tiger and even Pipevine swallowtails are seen. Me, born and raised in brick, mortar and asphalt, I don’t forget to Thank G-d for enabling this and for letting me feast my eyes on it.

Suddenly, those eyes signal, Incoming! What happened? A big, big swallowtail has just flown in, at 10:15-ish. Bigger by a lot. Even bigger than the biggest Eastern Tiger females.

A Giant Swallowtail! It’s a Giant Swallowtail: a Papilio creshphontes. Now, with camera poised, comes the question, “Is it fresh? Does it sadly sport wing damage? No? None?” This determination has to be be in less than a split second, for Giants nectar furiously, and are here one second and gone the next!

I shoot away, for the colors and how they’re set out is indeed dramatic. Virginia did it. She created a beacon for flying winged beauties. 2018 sees the closing of Butterflies and Blooms in the Briar Patch Habitat I, and the opening of a bigger, much more challenging Habitat II.

As I expect, my last exposure finds the Giant almost 100% out of view, just the outer edge of the hindwings tells me that the Giant has decided to move to a new bloom, and it’s never just a Tithonia bloom three feet away, instead you can count on it flying to a new flowerhead, twelve feet away.

I’m left thinking, “Who invented the Giant? Honest?”

Jeff