Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Flying Flowers

Of all the butterflies in my garden, the Swallowtails are the most showy.  They have large wings, so large that they fly as though these wings are impossible to control.  They are whipped about by the wind like a kite.  It's hard not to feel sorry for these large-winged beauties.  Instead of graceful, as they should be, they are like clowns with feet a bit too big.  A little clumsy, uncoordinated, and uncontrollable.  Yet they are also the most colorful, boldly patterned butterflies, and are breathtaking to see.

Since their wings are continually caught by the wind, they are constantly fluttering, rarely staying still.  For this reason, they have been hard for me to capture on camera.

Still, there have been at least three different types of swallowtails in my garden this past week:


When I saw this, I was thrilled!  Anytime a big black butterfly catches my eye, I'm excited.  And this one has little dots on its body - adorable!

I always stand very still, like I would if it were a bird.  I'm not certain if that helps, but I still stand stiff and motionless, which isn't easy because the adrenaline starts pumping!  A black butterfly on a white flower - very showy!

Not sure, but I believe this is the Eastern Black Swallowtail.  He's attracted to carrots and parsley, and his range is from Southern Canada, along Rockies into Arizona and Mexico, then east to the Atlantic.  Queen Anne's Lace is a host plant.


On the same day, at the same time, this yellow beauty caught my eye.  Larger than the black one, I instantly turn my focus to it.  It took a long time for me to get a picture of it with its wings open.

But finally I did.  Yum - that hydrangea must have tasted good.  Or, its big blooms were the only flowers large enough to support the butterfly while it rested.

This is the Tiger Swallowtail.  It's range is from Central Alaska and Canada to the Atlantic, southeast of Rockies to the Gulf.  This is the male.  The female is black with blue markings.  It has a great variety of host plants, mostly of broad-leafed trees and shrubs.


Hey, big boy, let's get a closer look at you!

Don't be shy - closer!

That's better.

I could see this butterfly from far, far away.  Big.  It was very big.  And it was windy that day.  The poor thing was being tossed around like a paper airplane.  But it was spectacular.  Too bad it couldn't seem to land on the butterfly bush that was also getting whipped around by the wind.  I don't think the butterfly bush's bloom could support this big butterfly anyway.  It flew away before I could get a better picture.  Which was probably for the best.  I was about to faint from holding my breath!

This is the Giant Swallowtail.  And it was giant!  It's one of North America's largest butterflies.  Known as the "Orange Dog" to citrus growers, it is subjected to spraying as a citrus pest because the caterpillar feeds on various citrus trees.  That's so sad.   :(

I don't have any citrus trees for him, but I hope he'll come visit my garden again soon!

Others have had some amazing butterfly posts lately.  So, One, I am not in the "kiasu" competition.  I just happened to see some butterflies!


  1. Beautiful pictures of a wonderful garden,

  2. Holley, very exciting pictures of the butterflies which visit your garden. Ours are not quite so exotic but I will try to get a few shots.

  3. Beautiful Photos. I love to watch the butterflies, but I don't get a lot yet. I keep hoping each year that they will improve.

  4. I didn't know butterflies liked hydrangeas or maybe he was looking for a big landing zone out of the wind. They're so lovely and so are your photos.

  5. It's always interesting to see who, and what flowers butterflies are visiting in the gardens of others.

    Google is giving me a hard time about who I may be today.

  6. Hanne - Thank you!

    Alistair - I would love to see some of your butterflies! I look forward to it.

    Cher - We seem to have a lot this year. Not sure why. Maybe we are finally planting the things they love.

    Sherry - He was probably just looking for a place to stretch out his wings. My pictures don't do these butterflies justice. They are breathtaking in real life, but never still!

    Nell Jean - I think it's interesting, too. I have been making notes of which plants they seem to like the best here.

  7. Lovely butterflies! I have not seen but a few of the black swallotails this year, but they have laid eggs on my dill and parsley. I look forward to seeing the adults. Great photos!

  8. Great job capturing those butterflies! Your garden must be a great place to be in.

  9. Sage Butterfly - You will certainly have many! How exciting to see their eggs!

    Masha - I'm taking note of the flowers the butterflies seem attracted to. I will want to purchase more of them. Sometimes we forget to see the beauty when we're working, but a butterfly flying by certainly reminds us!

  10. What a wonderful compliment/complement to your garden! I can certainly relate to trying to get in closer for a picture of the more flighty garden visitors, as with your beautiful swallowtail.

  11. Spectacular photographs of those gorgeous butterflies! Just a pleasure to sit and scroll through!

  12. So many beautiful butterflies. I have the same trouble getting a photo. Last year I had a swallowtail caterpillar in my carrot bed. I had no idea what it was but after reading about them I planted dill in my veggie garden this spring especially for them.

  13. Kate - Some butterflies seem not to notice me hardly at all, but some are quite skittish. These were hard to get near without them flying off.

    Cathy and Steve - The swallowtails are very showy, and I especially loved the pattern on the Giant Swallowtail. It was very distinctive.

    Marguerite - I hope you get lots of swallowtails in your garden! How smart to plant for them.

  14. What a lovely post Holley, to see such elegant creatures in the garden. I think that's one of the main perks of having so many flowers in the garden, seeing the butterflies enjoy them :)

  15. Mark and Gaz - I agree with this being one of the main perks. It feel so good to have these delicate creatures show up. After all, a garden would't be complete without some wildlife to enjoy it. I love to see not only butterflies, but dragonflies, frogs, and lizards. Very motivating to keep planting flowers, and gardening without pesticides.

  16. I love when gardeners post pictures of butterflies in their garden. I can never seem to capture them myself! These are great.

  17. Bumble Lush - Some of them are very hard to capture. And I don't know how some gardeners get such amazing photos. I'm happy to get pictures well enough to identify them. Luckily, they seem to enjoy some flowers so well they won't hardly move from them!

  18. Holley, send some my way. We have been butterfly poor, fennel, dill, and parsley are ready to eat.

  19. Greggo - That's very strange. I wonder why the butterflies have not been in your garden. I'm starting to worry that it will soon be too hot for them here!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...