13 September 2016

The Black Swallowtail Butterfly is living at my house!

Yum
Last year my husband put in a butterfly garden for me.  With the help of one of his colleagues, Sue, we put in a variety of native Missouri plants.  Last year they greened up a bit and the rabbits ended up eating some, so we wired a fence around the garden and this year the plants did very well.  So well, in fact, that we are seeing some butterflies!

Do you see the caterpillar, too?  He'll be a black swallowtail, too!
The first butterfly I noticed was the Black Swallowtail Butterfly.  I happened to see it first while on my front porch visiting with my neighbor, Tina.  I tried, unsuccessfully, to get her to land on my finger so I could look at her closely.  My second sighting was in my backyard.  I grabbed my cell phone and captured a few images and with the help of Sue, was able to identify the butterfly!

The Black Swallowtail has a number of names, American swallowtail, parsnip swallowtail, parsley swallowtail, celeryworm, and caraway worm (Miller 1992).  It is a common butterfly, but I wasn't sure that I had ever noticed one before. The black swallowtail is found throughout southern Canada, most of the eastern and mid-western United States west to the Rocky Mountains, and southwest into Arizona and northern Mexico.

One can tell the males from the females by looking at the wings.  On the upper part of the wings the two rows of yellow spots are large on the males and smaller and lighter in females.  The part between the rows of spots is iridescent blue on the females.  

I've seen some other butterflies as well.