We came home from Nearly Native Nursery (Fayetteville, Georgia, just south of Atlanta) with a large Hercules Club. What a terrific addition to our 800 garden. Hercules Club grows to become a small tree, and it is a hostplant for that amazing butterfly of the South, the Giant Swallowtail butterfly.
We now have 2 Hercules Club plants, and the excitement builds, for several days ago, while the large Hercules Club was still in its large bucket, a female Giant came along and I watched, pleased as a peach, while it returned again and again to lay eggs on the Hercules Club, though it was still in bucket!
Searching through our Media Library, I’ve chosen this image to share, an image of a Giant Swallowtail nectaring on a Tithonia bloom (Mexican Sunflower) in the Butterflies & Blooms Briar Patch Habitat in Eatonton, Georgia. Just hours ago we set that sizable plant into the ground here, added sand to the soil (they enjoy soil with sandy texture) and I so look forward to the years ahead, with our 2 Hercules Club plants, and we hope a steady stream of Giants flying gracefully in the deposit their eggs and to nectar on our 800 Tithonia, Zinnias, Joe Pye, Bricktellia, and so much more.
We were methodically working a trail in Lynx Prairie Reserve in Adams County, Ohio. So many butterflies and plants that I’d never seen before. Lynx Prairie was just a handful of miles from Kentucky, and knowing that I was seeing the best of both Ohio and Kentucky? Exciting. Very exciting.
When we came to this one, Angela ID’ed it as an Asclepias, one of the many species of Milkweed that Monarch butterflies deposit their egg on. I stopped and stared, and stared, as the others continued ahead on the trail. Most of them were accomplished botany enthusiasts. Me, well I’ve got lots to learn. An Asclepias?
For those who are complacent, thinking they know ‘it all,’ come into the field, and Zap! That epiphany, that there is so much you don’t know, and so much that you can know. Me? G-d sure created a whole lot!!!
Is the butterfly 100% intact? Have they (birds, lizards, snakes, flies, wasps, darners, beetles….) bitten away any of her magnificent wing plumage? No. Good. Flying just days after exiting her chrysalis.
Swallowtails employ different types of strategies when they nectar on wildflowers. Some, like the Eastern Black Swallowtail, flap their wings furiously, bedeviling photographers who are trying to capture a good image of them. Papilio glaucusshown here are much easier to shoot. They briefly pause at especially generous flowers, and that is when you shoot, shoot, shoot!
Female Eastern tigers are among the largest of all of the butterflies in the U.S.. They are also found throughout the eastern United States. Why? are they so widespread? Just as McDonalds feeds Americans in every state east of the Mississippi River, Eastern tigers are generalists, adapted to nectar at many, many different wildflowers, and able to safely and successfully deposits their eggs on a great variety of host plants. She would prefer to lay those eggs on wild cherry trees, tulip trees and ash, but many others will do just fine.
An exquisite butterfly, very common and very adaptable. Impressive, eh?