Tag Archives: Giant Swallowtail Butterfly

This week a friend of mine asked me if I'd like some silkworms. She knew I was an experienced silkworm mom and she had received way too many from her order in the mail.

So, now we have tiny silkworm caterpillars to feed.

They are so adorable, how could I say no?

(See our previous posts about the silkworm life cycle and the history of silkworms.)

While picking leaves in the yard this morning for the silkworms, I found this giant swallowtail butterfly.

It's pretty bedraggled. What do you think happened to it?

 

Generally we don't think of butterflies and fall going together, but there are butterflies active in the fall. To tank up for fall migrations, and to get ready for overwintering, these butterflies use late-blooming flowers for nectar.

This week we had a surprising number of butterflies visiting our willow acacia tree, which is in full blossom.

The powder-puff flowers of the willow acacia might not look like much, but they must have nectar because the bees are also visiting them in droves. The tree fairly hums on warm days.

The painted ladies were migrating through. One week you won't see any, the next week they are everywhere.

Painted ladies also visit the lantana flowers, another good source of nectar for butterflies.

Not as noticeable, but just as numerous on the willow acacia are the snout butterflies. This butterfly's pointed "snout" is almost as long as its antennae. Notice how camouflaged it is when it has its wings closed.

The giant swallowtails are constantly on the move. It is hard to get a photograph of one. They visit our citrus trees, which are food for the caterpillars.

We also saw a monarch butterfly in the willow acacia this week, also moving too much to be recorded. The monarchs are known for their long migrations this time of year.

We tend to have these skippers throughout most of the year. They use lantana as well.

We also saw queen butterflies. The last queen butterfly to emerge from our milkweed vine was smaller than the rest. It still enjoyed our asters.

It was interesting that these asters were blooming when we visited New England in October, and our Arizona asters were in full bloom when we got back home. Asters are also important sources of nectar for honey bees.

Of course, goldenrod is another common fall flower that is a good source of nectar. Once ignored as a weed, there are now cultivated varieties for the garden.

If you would like to put in a fall butterfly garden,  the Brooklyn Botanical Garden has some suggested plants.

Have you seen any butterflies this week?

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Do you remember the orange dog caterpillar and then the chrysalis from a few weeks ago?

The butterfly that emerged is called the giant swallowtail.

I was so excited when it came out of the chrysalis because I have never gotten a photograph of these speedy and elusive butterflies. They are always fluttering by at the tops of our citrus trees.

Because it had just emerged, it was sitting very still. It was waiting for its wings to finish drying. I was able to take a number of photographs. Here's a close up of the eye spots on the hind wings.

Look, you can even see the scales that cover the wings.

Underneath it has a yellow body.

Isn't it amazing that an egg and a few grapefruit leaves can transform into something so beautiful?

Have you ever seen a giant swallowtail butterfly up close?