While Planting A Large Hercules Club Today . . .

Giant Swallowtail Butterfly on Tithonia photographed by Jeff Zablow in the Briar Patch Habitat in Eatonton, GA

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.

Jeff

Angela’s Answer? A Rare Asclepias (Milkweed)

Rare Asclepias photographed by Jeff Zablow at Lynx Prairie Reserve, Ohio

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!!!

Jeff

2 Southern Texas Danaus Butterflies (Actually 3) & An Israeli Danaus

Queen butterfly (Full dorsal) photographed by Jeff Zablow at the National Butterfly Center, Mission, TXMonarch Butterflies Coupled photographed by Jeff Zablow at the National Butterfly Center, Mission, TXPlain Tiger butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Mishmarot, Israel

This Queen butterfly was photographed at the ‘Wall’ in Mission Texas. She was nectaring at a famous, much visited perennial garden set at the entrance wall to a popular development of homes.

The image of a pair of coupled Monarch butterflies (he easily seen here) was taken in the perennial gardens of the National Butterfly Center, also in Mission, Texas.

Both are Danaus butterflies, both relying on native milkweed plants as their hostplants.

Here in Eatonton, Georgia we have Monarchs visiting daily, to nectar on our natives and Mexican Sunflower, and to deposit their eggs on our several species of milkweed.

A visit from a Queen, here in central Georgia, is possible, but unlikely.

The 3rd image is a Danaus butterfly, the Plain Tiger, halfway around the world, in Mishmarot, Israel. A male I think.

Danaus butterflies have much in common, and then again, vary much.

Jeff

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly at Phipps Conservatory

Tiger Swallowtail butterfly photographed by Jeffrey Zablow at Phipps Conservatory,  Pittsburgh

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.

How can you know that it’s a female? The blue splashes on both of her hind wings assure us that our Tiger is a tigress, leisurely working the Outdoor Gardens of the Phipps Conservatory in my city of Pittsburgh.

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 glaucus shown 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?

Jeff