It is unusual and a special treat to see clusters of any type of butterflies in one’s life. The photographs in this article are those that I took in July 2010 in Cherokee, North Carolina of clusters of Pipevine Swallowtail Butterflies (Battus philenor). These butterflies were gathered at a roadside, obtaining moisture from the dirt and stones after a rain shower. I drove by them in my travels, and turned around to view and observe them, getting the pictures that I’ve included here.
Pipevine Swallowtails are commonly found in North and Central America. They are especially numerous in North Carolina, with their larvae feeding on plant species of Aristolochia. These are poisonous plant species, making the Pipevine Swallowtail Butterfly and it’s larvae poisonous. Birds and other natural predators leave them alone, and therefore, they thrive, particularly in the Blue Ridge and Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina.
Pipevine Swallowtails are black with iridescent dark blue hind wings. The Pipevines are beautiful, fluttery butteflies that really catch one’s eye due to the bright iridescence of their hind wings. Their wingspan is generally about 3″ to 3.5″ in length. The butterflies and their larvae can be found throughout the summer months, particularly in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Having lived in the Southeastern United States for the past 12 years, I have had the pleasure of viewing and observing many Cloudless Giant Sulphur Butterflies (Phoebis sennae) through the years. These butterflies are similar to the smaller orange sulphurs, though they are significantly and noticeably larger in size. Surprisingly, I also do not have any of these butterflies in my Lepidoptera collection, though I have them as part of my collection of butterfly photographs, a few of which may be viewed in this blog post.
The photos of the Cloudless Giant Sulphurs that are included in this article are those that I took in my residential area in Georgia on October 3, 2012. At the time that I took the photos, there were two beautiful Sulphurs resting and/or feeding near each other. I was lucky enough to get a few photos of them both resting on the ground near each other before they flew off.
These Sulphurs are so graceful in their flight. When they are not flying from flower to flower, they sail through the air or are at rest on the ground, on flowers, or on the leaves of trees, for examples. Seeing the Sulphurs is a sure sign of summer and fall in Georgia. Their pretty yellow coloring is cheery and uplifting on any day.
The Monarch Butterflies (Danaus plexippus) – or milkweed butterflies – appear to be flying south for the winter. Last week, I saw a Monarch near my home, as well as one in Lilburn, Georgia. They are much more rare to observe these days, due to so many of them freezing and dying in Mexico where their winter roosting areas have been cut down and cleared in recent years.
When I was a girl, I remember seeing observing many Monarchs throughout the summer and fall, particularly on and around the milkweed plants on which their larvae feed. One fall, in Western New York State, when I was in my early teens, I had the once-in-a-lifetime privilege of viewing 100s of Monarchs roosting at the edge of a woods, among some trees with overhanging branches and vines. I will always remember that, and to this day, I still wish I’d had a camera to document the amazing event!
The particular Monarch in the pictures herein visited the flowers around our home for two days before continuing on it’s travels. Monarchs have such beautiful, bright, and vibrant orange and black colors! They are magnificent to behold, and are a sure sign that fall has arrived.