Some butterflies have shown up at last. Not as many as I would like to see though. There were dozens of Eastern Tiger Swallowtails in past years, but only two or three of them this year. I’ve seen some Swallowtail caterpillars but they disappeared a couple of days after. I think the birds have been doing their job too well. A team of Gray Catbirds, House Wrens, Song Sparrows, Robins, Eastern Bluebirds, Titmouse, and Chickadees work non-stop on eliminating insects in the garden. I’ve seen one Monarch briefly this summer before it’s also disappeared.
I had some luck a couple of days ago, two Spicebush Swallowtails (Papilio troilus) took their time in courtship, slipping from flower to flower. Wherever the female flew to, the male followed close behind. It’s reminded me of the courtship ritual in many period films….very graceful.
One fun thing I’ve been doing every year is to look for new life forms in the garden. I find there are always newcomers every year and the variety seems to increase year after year. I guess they see our garden as their sanctuary as much as we do. We provide the basic necessities: food, water, safety and a poison free (organic) place to live and raise a new generation. They follow their food into the garden.
This year and late in the season I have only seen two Monarch butterflies, very disappointing. However, there are two new butterflies that I haven’t seen in our garden past, that showed up for the first time this year: the Giant Swallowtail and a Red-Spotted purple. I don’t want to say it balances out my disappointment but it does make me feel better. I’m still concerned about the disappearing Monarch though.
This Giant Swallowtail (Papilio cresphontes) looks a little bit bigger than the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus). The wings are blackish above with yellow spots. The under wings and body are yellow-colored.
We have a lot of Eastern Tiger Swallowtails this year. They are so relaxed that they stop flipping their wings while they are taking nectar. The Giant Swallowtail never stops moving during the time they spend in the garden.
When I first saw this Red-spotted purple (Limenitis arthemis astyanax) butterfly, I thought it was a Spicebush Swallowtail (Papilio troilus) that had its tail nipped off. But when it landed on the ground and folded its wings I realized it was a new type of butterfly.
We have two types of Swallowtail butterfly in our garden every summer, the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus) and the Black Swallowtail (Papiliopolyxenes). I raised a Black Swallowtail caterpillar in the house last year hoping to see it’s stages of transformation. It became a butterfly in early winter which was too late to find food anywhere aside from what bloomed in the basement. He was clearly a late bloomer, if you’ll pardon the play on words. I hope to do it again this year but earlier in the season. I have been looking for a caterpillar up and down the Dills and Parsleys, their favorite food, but have seen none so far. I guess the birds have done too good of a job.
To my delight last week, I spotted a black-winged swallowtail. When I looked closely however, it turned out to be a Spicebush Swallowtail (Papilio troilus). This is the first time I have seen a Spicebush Swallowtail in the garden. I saw another one yesterday. It’s a great addition to our garden, but I still miss the Black Swallowtail , none of whom have shown themselves yet this year. I still have my hopes up though since it’s only August.