Wednesday, July 20, 2011

More Butterflies This Week

Eastern Tailed Blue

   Monday evening Jeff and I wandered out into the back yard, there was a break in the heat and the grass felt cool under my bare feet. It was actually pleasant for a change, the heat and humidity has been oppressive lately. Our faux prairie really comes to life in the evening, grasshoppers, dragonflies, butterflies, moths, and probably mice too, hidden under the layers of grass. Our recent butterfly population explosion seems to be continuing as Jeff found this little fella in the grass, then about a dozen or so more. The picture doesn't do it justice, it's so tiny, but so beautiful. It's wingspan is about an inch and it's flight pattern is very spastic, like a moth. I've never seen so many of the same species of butterfly in one place.

   We also spotted several Halloween Pennants. They were all sitting on top of seed heads, like the one above, facing the setting sun.

   Tuesday afternoon I spotted this butterfly on the hyssop. I could easily see it from inside the house, it was huge, approximately 4 1/2 inches across. It lingered for about an hour, feeding heavily from every blossom on my hyssop plants.

   I'm guessing it's a Spicebush Swallowtail, but I'm not certain. The size is right, the colors on it's back are right, but it's lacking the second row of orange spots underneath. I just don't know what else it could be, if any of you out there have an idea, let me know! We have several Sassafras trees on our property, which is a secondary host plant for the Spicebush Swallowtail, so I've been hoping to see some.

*You can click on the pictures above to enlarge them, if your browser allows.


  1. Hi Julie, I very much enjoy your blog -- your pictures are fantastic, and you see such interesting creatures in your yard!

    I have an idea about that last butterfly. I just learned recently that female Eastern Tiger Swallowtails actually have a black form (who knew!), and it looks like that's what you might have seen! There's more information at this site:

  2. Elizabeth,

    That's it! I looked in several books and online and never saw that the Eastern Tiger female has a black version. Thanks for checking out my blog and letting me know about that butterfly!


  3. Hi Julie,

    Great blog! The dark Eastern Tiger females are very tricky. I run into them too and every single time I try to make them into Spicebush or Pipevine Swallowtails-- without luck of course. The Kaufman butterfly guide is very handy if you haven't checked it out yet, and does show the dark female form. Feel free to pop over to my blog too and let me know what you think.

  4. Thanks Jodi!

    I will definitely have to get one of those books!

    Thanks for sharing your blog with me, I hadn't previously seen it. I especially like that you're somewhat local to me, it's nice for comparing observations.

  5. Just stumbled on to your blog...Very interesting. Do you feed the deer to get those great pics?

  6. Technically, yeah I guess I do feed them. During the day I put out a mixture of seed, peanuts, and corn for the ground feeding birds, squirrels, and chipmunks. Last winter I noticed we were getting some larger nighttime visitors that were finishing off what was left from the daytime eaters so I began tossing out a few handfuls of extra peanuts and corn for the night crew. They also seem to come by for the water we have out-every night I fill the bird baths and by morning they are empty.