When one flies in, and you’re sure it’s a black species of swallowtail, lots of us immediately speed to determine if it is that uncommon Pipevine Swallowtail Butterfly. Not easy that, for they move their wings very rapidly, as they hover over the flowers they’ve common to enjoy. Making it even more difficult to decide the ID, the definitive ventral (under) wing surface is usually tough to see, that because those wings are in rapid motion.
What do I do? I quickly position myself knowing that my object of possible elation will be gone in one minute or less. Then I shoot way, with my Canon film camera’s shutter choice set a 3-exposures in a second or so. Sometimes all this results in success! This time, I score an fine image of this Pipevine Swallowtail butterfly nectaring on a Common Milkweed flowerhead. There’s no doubt about it. The wash of royal blue extends forward of the sweet coral spots, the abdomen and thorax and head feature the characteristic pattern of Pipevine white body spots, and this one is Fresh! Very Fresh!
Have I ever thought that the incoming butterfly was a Pipevine, only to be disappointed, or to find that it was a Pipevine, but a ‘worn’ individual? Well, yes, perhaps hundreds of times over these years.
Doak field, Raccoon Creek State Park in southwestern Pennsylvania, just an 8-hour drive from Grand Central Station/Madison Square Garden in New York, New York.