A Sight That Thrills

Close Up of Pipevine Swallowtail  Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow as it perched on Bergamot flower at Raccoon Creek State Park in Pennsylvania, 7/31/14

Bergamot, that northeastern member of the mint family, will be open soon in meadows through that part of the USA. A fine strategy is to locate a stand of this 2-3 foot tall perennial, and return there the next day(s), on a sunny morning. Why? You will have an excellent chance to see and shoot butterflies, moths and more than make it their business to visit the Bergamot, it pumping out sweet nectar those morning hours.

This morning here, I was richly rewarded when a fresh Pipevine Swallowtail butterfly showed up, and as they do, furiously hovered over the Bergamot blooms, imbibing its nutrient rich nectar. Those purplish-blues of the right hindwing ventral surface glisten in the morning sun, the rich coral  spots please, and the purplish-blue of the abdomen against the white spots of the body add to the beauty of this swallowtail.

Doak Meadow in Raccoon Creek State Park, Hookstown, Pennsylvania.


5 thoughts on “A Sight That Thrills

  1. Useful to know that different plants have nectar flows at different times of day … I have a notion of attempting to document them with regard to Lepidoptera nectar plants. Pollination studies typically do a 24-hour watch to figure out what is happening. A common eastern milkweed has the biggest nectar flow of the day at about 10 p.m. with many visits by noctuid moths.


  2. I have bergamot in my wild flower garden. Someone asked “why do you have those weeds by your house?” He wanted to get rid of all my wild flowers so it looked neat. I refused. I am planting more species to attract even more butterflys. Thanks to you I learned that the rue i have is a host for the giant swallowtails . Love your photos


    • Tell your Nebby (Pittsburgh for a tad to inquisitive) neighbors that Bergamot is the mint family native that the original inhabitants of your county used to make their tea. We are at a time during which we respect and admire Native Americans, and this WAS their tea mint.


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