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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Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly

Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly photographed at Raccoon Creek State Park, PA

The magic of Butterflyweed flowers! When their flowers open in July the morning sun brings a steady procession of butterflies. Swallowtails, Fritillaries, Orange sulphurs, Coral hairstreaks and Monarchs.

Here our heroine is hungrily nectaring and displaying her stunning blue splashes!

After some 2 hours or so of morning sunlight, butterflies do not fly to the Butterflyweed. The last visitors to these flowers are usually very worn and sport heavily damaged wings.

When was the last time that you saw Butterflyweed? Is is a native or an alien wildflower?

What may explain the complete drop-off of butterfly activity at Butterflyweed flowers at mid-morning?


Eastern Black Swallowtail Butterfly

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

You know by now that I am enchanted by the wash of colors displayed on swallowtail wings.

This Eastern Black Swallowtail Butterfly (EBSB) was such a treat to see. Papilio polyxenex are not the largest of our northeastern swallowtails, but they certainly, as she reveals, among our most strikingly beautiful.

Gracefully flying from zinnia flower to the next, I wanted to capture that colorful palette. These zinnias are planted in large flower beds in May. There is little insect activity at their flowers until some time in June. Then, suddenly they begin producing nectar generously, and butterlifes flock to them. Through late September they continue to pump out nutrient -rich nectar. Impressive. Very impressive.

Where are they now? They overwinter as pupae, hidden amongst the leaf litter.

Continue enjoying these butterflies when you go to our other EBSB posts.


Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly

Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly photographed at Raccoon Creek State Park, PA

Real time this Tiger Swallowtail female is working furiously to take up the nectar of these Butterflyweed flowers.

Her blue splashes on her hindwings are what sold me on this photograph. It’s a great challenge to capture them, considering how much the subject is moving.

Papilio glaucus is the species name of the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterfly. It’s one of our largest butterflies.


Zebra Swallowtail Butterflies

Zebra swallowtail butterflies photographed at Mason's Neck State Park, VA

Zebras are uniquely beautiful swallowtail butterflies. They are native to the southeast.

This pair was on a sandy beach at Mason Neck State Park in Virginia.

Both showed vibrant color and were in excellent condition. Reds, blues, black, yellow to whitish-yellow. Oooh.

They remained there for quite a long time. I got down on the sand with them and shot at least 60 exposures. I’m pleased with this one. Click on it and enjoy an enlarged view.

Eurytides marcellus‘s range extends from western New York south to Florida. Truth be told…I’ve yet to see one in western Pennsylvania.