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Thursday, July 16, 2009

Visitors to my Garden: Black Swallowtail Butterfly

My garden is often visited by lots of different animals and insects. Butterflies of all sorts love my gardens for the variety of plants and flowers.

The bright caterpillar at left is the caterpillar for the Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes asterius). They love plants which belong to the fennel/dill/Queen Anne's lace type. Here, he is feeding on a red fennel which freely seeds itself in my garden...a little too freely, but I keep it around to feed these brilliant creatures.


Yesterday, one had the misfortune to take a swim in the pool. We fished him out and I carefully placed him on a daylily to let him dry out.

He sat for a little while and dried his wings. Notice the brilliant orange and blue on the side view which doesn't show up on the back of his wings.

And yes, he is a him. The females don't have the yellow like this, but have more blue. There seems to be a bit of variation in patterning.

No doubt he will show up in a future quilt.





4 comments:

Sunita said...

Absolutely beautiful, Lisa! Looks like his misadventure was a lucky thing for you.I'd love to see that quilt once you're done.
I hope all those chomping guys arent anywhere near your orchids.

Michigoose said...

Thanks, Sunita! No, he doesn't eat my orchids. They live on a screened in porch as I don't have any trees (only one 20' high one on the east side) to break the relentless southern sun. Even on the porch they sometimes get sunburned.

Most of the caterpillars here are extremely selective in what plants they eat. The Japanese beetles are having a dinner party in my back yard, but even they prefer some plants over the others...just far more than the butterfly pupae do! The butterflies are always welcome dinner guests, except for the Iris borer.

This is one of the local fauna which I think would be at home in India with all your exotic beasties!

Lisa

Vivien said...

Beautiful! Regrettably, I haven't seen any swallowtails around here this year and I'm wondering why.

Michigoose said...

Well, Vivien, the one in the pool was the first adult I've seen. We had tons of caterpillars. I've only seen two monarchs. It may be a function of the weather.

We've been dry, but only two weeks where it was really hot..(and unseasonably so). I know that the NE has been getting most of our rain ; ).