Eastern Black Swallowtail Butterfly

Eastern black swallowtail butterfly photographed at Phipps Conservatory Outdoor Gardens, Pittsburgh, PA

Our Papilio polyxenes is nectaring on tall verbena. His wings are moving faster than the eye can see, as Eastern black swallowtails do as they hover over flowers.

We’re a bit distant from him considering we are shooting macro-…but the end-product is eye-pleasing and those swallowtail tails look quite handsome!

Solitary like many swallowtail species (see our posts of Tiger swallowtail, Spicebush swallowtail), a fresh one is quite a remarkable sight and tears you away from whatever else you were searching for.

Tall verbena planted in a good-sized grouping is a magnet to draw so many butterflies. Nectaring from May to October, they are one of the best investments still available for the prudent gardener. About 24″ tall, the flower head provides photos that are extraordinary, because when you shot with one knee resting on the ground, you can include your home, your barn, your pup, your kitten or ………. in the background.

Enjoy our 4 earlier posts of Eastern Black Swallowtails.

Our instant photo was taken in the middle of the city of Pittsburgh. What say you to that?


Eastern Black Swallowtail Butterfly

Eastern black swallowtail butterfly photographed at Raccoon Creek State Park, PA

Magnificent jewelry on the wing! Fresh and resplendent.

Our 4th post of Eastern Black Swallowtails. This one with every single tiny scale in place, reflecting sunlight and refracting sunlight.

Take heart my friends, this gem was nectaring at Raccoon Creek State Park’s Nichol Road trail on May 24th.

Papilio polyxenes caterpillars feed on the leaves of members of the carrot family (parsley, dill, carrot & fennel) as well as Queen Ann’s Lace. This gives the larva some protection, as they become distasteful to predators.

Adults feed on flower nectar. They can be approached while nectaring… but the featured image was appreciated because they flutter their wings at a furious rate and it’s very difficult to capture the beauty of the ventral (below) wing surface.

One of those butterflies that sends my heartbeat racing when first spotted. What can I say? The big W. Wow!


Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly

Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly photographed at Raccoon Creek State Park, PA

She’s furiously nectaring on teasel wildflowers in Raccoon Creek State Park in western Pennsylvania. She’s now our 5th post of a Tiger Swallowtail butterfly.

Strange, to me, that teasel that is so common along the sides of roads is so critical to so many species of butterflies. Lucky you if you have teasel flourishing on your lot.

It’s true, I love the rich coloration of swallowtail butterflies.

This Tiger swallowtail was especially thoughtful, presenting her full wingspan and holding that pose. The symmetry we enjoy here is not so easy to capture in an image. Tiger swallowtails are usually either difficult to approach or they are moving too quickly to allow for keepable images. So, even though we try not to have the main focus in an image centered, this photo merits center stage.

She has been feeding at Asclepias flowers (milkweed, butterflyweed) for several weeks now, and teasel surely is a welcomed new taste!


Spicebush Swallowtail Butterfly

Eastern black swallowtail butterfly photographed at Raccoon Creek State Park, PA

The sugar-loaded nectar that our Spicebush Swallowtail is drinking-in from this monarda flowerhead is as sweet as ……………………………….? Who knows? If you know please share.

The magnificent jewelry on exhibition here is not being viewed at Tiffany, Cartier’s, Sotheby’s or Christies…but can be experienced at your local, county, state or national park/wildlife refuge in May, June, July & August in 2012.

All butterflies differ from one another, so not all Spicebush Swallowtails sport such fine color. But stick around such a wildflower bed, and whisssst, in will fly a bedazzler!

Gardeners! Monarda has been hybridized producing dozens of varieties. They are easy perennials. Provide good sun and well-drained soil and if they take to a spot, they may bless it for years and years and years. The yield = butterflies of many species, honeybees and hummingbirds.

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