Friday, August 19, 2016

Spicing up the Garden

Spicebush Swallowtail (Papilio troilus) on Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis)
Much to my joy I have seen many large black butterflies fluttering around the garden. I assumed they were black swallowtails as their gloriously striped caterpillars have consumed much of my potted parsley. But today I caught an image of a spicebush swallowtail sipping nectar from a hot red cardinal flower by the pond. The subtle difference between the spicebush and the black is easy to discern once the butterflies have come to rest. The tails on the spicebush are spoon-shaped and the upper side wings lack a post median row of yellow spots. The larvae feed on spicebush and sassafras, plenty of which grow on my property. I am also pleased to report that Monarch butterflies have been more numerous this year than in the past few summers.

Monarch Butterfly (Danaus plexippus)