Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Swallowtail Butterfly on Clematis

Ted Lucas, Denise's husband, sends these pictures of what appears to be an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly (Pterourus glaucus) on a clematis blossom in the Lucas garden. Ted captured these pictures yesterday morning while spreading mulch. The morning was quite dewy, and the butterfly was using the petals to dry its wings, and perhaps get a sip of nectar. Enjoy!

The Lucas Garden, as well as the Miller Garden, will be featured in the upcoming Shade Class on July 7th.  Contact the Extension office to register.

Later this year, Laurie Collins and Kathy Engle will be teaching Butterfly Gardening, including the host plants needed to feed the caterpillars.  Some info from the link above, 
After mating, female tiger swallowtails lay eggs on leaves of host plants. Host plants are the plants that caterpillars will eat. Host plants of Eastern Tiger Swallowtails include Yellow Poplar, Black Willow, Black Cherry, American Hornbeam, Red Maple, Spicebush, American Elm, and Sassafras.

When caterpillars first hatch, their colors look a lot like bird poop. This helps camouflage them. As they get older, they turn green with a large head and bright eyespots. The eyespots aren't really eyes. They are probably there to scare away predators, or to make them attack the wrong part of the butterfly. A butterfly can lose part of a wing and still survive.
More information on Butterfly Gardening here and here.

Update June 21:  Check out earlier posts on butterflies, including Kathy Engle's wonderful "Garden with Wings" series from 2010.  Then there's these videos, with others showing off their fascination with Butterflies, and one  lucky fellow, too.

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