Male Eastern Black Swallowtail Butterfly Enjoys an Enviable Habitat

Eastern Black Swallowtail Butterfly photographed by Jeffrey Zablow in Phipps Conservatory Outdoor Gardens, PA

Around 10 AM in the Outdoor Gardens of the Phipps Conservatory in the center of Pittsburgh. The University of Pittsburgh a 3 minute walk straight ahead and Carnegie Mellon University a 2 minute walk to our right.

Our Papilio polyxenes is imbibing nectar at a furious pace. One of countless butterflies that fly into these expertly maintained flowerbeds from the equally verdant Schenley Park that surrounds the Phipps. So, a horticultural oasis surrounded by a very, very large Pittsburgh Park, in turn surrounded by beautiful universities and inviting neighborhoods. Our male here certainly enjoys an enviable habitat.

A widespread species, Black Swallowtail caterpillars feed upon members of the carrot and parsley family. Their success is aided by the abundance of Queen Anne’s Lace, Fennel, Parsley, Dill, Celery and Carrots found throughout Schenley Park and in Phipps’ Outdoor Gardens and the home gardens beyond.

Tough to photograph, not because they refuse your approach while nectaring, but rather because their rapid wing movement while feeding requires many, many exposures to hope to score a good image. We were please with this one, thank you.

As we’ve blogged so many times before, the appearance of such a handsome butterfly, usually unanticipated, is nirvana. And when they stop to nectar, and are serious about it- Well, that’s just sweet!


A Spider’s Web Crafted Along the Water’s Edge

Spider Web photographed in Raystown Lake, PA

Stunning! Our early morning visit to Raystown Lake in central Pennsylvania found dozens of displays of artwork along the water’s edge. Each supported who knows how many droplets of water. Prisms all, they dazzled and titillated.

Which artisans worked to craft these? Were they meant to be disassembled and rebuilt again? We didn’t stop to learn whether this was the work of Black and Yellow Argiopes or of the several species of Orbweavers.

These bejeweled webs do claim countless butterflies. That is reason enough to post it here on This has been the story since the beginning. So in the end this is our world.

How much time have we spent trying to understand how spiders meticulously construct such webs and, how their delicate proteins hold all but the largest of insects, even after countless minutes spent flaying away to attempt escape.

Why do you photograph butterflies, I’m asked? Because of their beauty. It surpasses the finest work of the world’s premier jewelry artisans. So too this gorgeous web demands….Stop and take a look!