Subject: black with blue spot butterfly
Location: staunton, va
August 31, 2012 5:57 am
Is it a morning cloak?
Signature: MJ

Black Swallowtail

Dear MJ,
The “tails” on the lower wings immediately identify this as one of the Swallowtails.  It is a Black Swallowtail,
Papilio polyxenes, and the dusting of blue on the lower wings identifies this as a female.  She is nectaring on a zinnia, one of the best plant for attracting butterflies and other pollinators to the garden.  Gardeners should plan early if they want zinnias in mid to late summer.  Zinnias grow easily from seeds that should be started in the early spring or late winter in areas that do not get snow and have hot summers, like the southwest.  The caterpillars of Black Swallowtails are often found feeding on parsley, carrots and other related plants in the vegetable patch.  More information on the Black Swallowtail is available on BugGuide.  We have our own theory that the swallowtails that feed most on nectar are the females who need to be strong to survive to lay eggs which are deposited singly on plants rather than in clusters.  We developed this theory because of the reluctance of the Western Tiger Swallowtails at our Mount Washington, Los Angeles offices, to land and visit the flowers.  We believe them to be “hill topping” males who are hoping to mate with females that are attracted to our own zinnias, lantana and butterfly bush, though the females never seem to be around when we are camera ready.

Location: Virginia

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.