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“Three Decades of Collecting Lepidoptera” (By: Michele Babcock-Nice)

Original Lepidoptera Display from my Second Year in 4-H, 1984; These Specimens are Between 29-31 Years Old.

Original Lepidoptera Display from my Second Year in 4-H, 1984; These Specimens are Between 29-31 Years Old (The Cecropia Moths, I Raised from Eggs!)

For me, insect collecting was an interest and recreational hobby that began when I was about 7 or 8 years old.  Living next to an open field, as well as a corn field and wooded area across the street from my home, was prime territory for butterfly hunting.  It also helped that my mom had a garden and many flowers that always attracted butterflies and bugs. 

Display Case of Sphinx and Silk Moths, Mostly Caught in North Carolina

Display Case of Sphinx and Silk Moths, Mostly Caught in North Carolina

My parents bought me books about butterflies and moths, and in one of those is where I read that people could actually collect and display these wonderful natural treasures.  My dad was supportive of my hobby by making a wing spreading board for me, and eventually, beautiful display cases.  When I started out in that first year, though, I pinned my butterflies and other insects with steel pins; those rusted very quickly.  Also, I pinned my finds in an empty shoebox at my mom’s suggestion, and found out that my treasures did not last.  The advent of my use of actual display cases, made to the specifications required by 4-H, was and still is a wonderful way of preserving and displaying my collection.

Tropical and Exotic Butterflies and Moths, Purchased from Ianni, Along with Some Domestic Specimens

Tropical and Exotic Butterflies and Moths, Purchased from Ianni, Along with Some Domestic Specimens

Some neighbors who were aware of my insect collecting knew a 4-H leader near my hometown who was also a Lepidoptera collector.  Her name was Mrs. Patricia Lawton of North Collins, New York.  Under her tutelage and guidance, Pat nurtured and encouraged my passion for insect – and particularly, Lepidoptera – collecting.  She taught me how to best-preserve my specimens, how to best spread their wings and display them, and she informed me about the proper pins to use.  For the next two years, my collections were displayed at and won awards at the county (Erie) and state (New York) fairs. 

Imperial, Regal, Luna, Sphinx, and Other Silk Moths from North Carolina; and Black Witch from Florida

Imperial, Regal, Luna, Sphinx, and Other Silk Moths from North Carolina; and Black Witch from Florida

Once I turned 15, my interests transformed into becoming more involved in high school clubs, academics, sports, music, theater, language, and writing.  For many years – about 15 – I shelved my passion for collecting and displaying butterflies and moths.  When I came back around to it at about age 30, I decided to go further in my collecting pursuits and look to the Internet for purchasing tropical and exotic butterflies and moths.  The Internet is where I located Ianni Butterfly Enterprises, located out of Ohio, that sells Lepidoptera. 

Blue Morphos and Other Tropical and Exotic Butterflies, Mostly Purchased from Ianni

Blue Morphos and Other Tropical and Exotic Butterflies, Mostly Purchased from Ianni

So, more than one decade ago, I began investing in expanding and enriching my Lepidoptera collection by adding dozens of tropical and exotic butterflies and moths to it, mostly purchased from Ianni Butterfly Enterprises.  This company is an excellent and reliable carrier, and I highly recommend them for outstanding, top quality specimens.

Tropical and Exotic Butterflies, All Purchased from Ianni

Tropical and Exotic Butterflies, All Purchased from Ianni

After about five years of adding to and investing into expanding my Lepidoptera collection, I decided that the expense had become too much, that I was getting carried away by it, and there were other priorities and responsibilities into which to put my money, most particularly my son.  Also at that time, I began to view collecting with a very different perspective.  I reflected on all of the butterflies and moths that were being sold for a profit, and recalled how much more I enjoy observing them as living creatures.  Certainly, looking at them and enjoying them in display cases is lovely, but viewing them in full living color, flying about with zestful energy became much more appealing to me. 

More Tropical and Exotic Butterflies and Moths, All Purchased from Ianni

More Tropical and Exotic Butterflies and Moths, Nearly All Purchased from Ianni

Therefore, I resolved to stop actively collecting butterflies and moths about five years ago.  Throughout the past 30 years, I have collected insects, including Lepidoptera, as my collection shows.  However, with my increasing age – and hopefully, wisdom, as well – I decided that it was more important that the butterflies and moths should live their lives without my catching them for my collection.  Instead of continuing to actively collect Lepidoptera, I have turned to photographing butterflies and moths.  Of course, if I happen upon an injured or deceased butterfly or moth, and it is in a condition that I believe is worth preserving, I make it part of my collection.  Otherwise, and unless it is a specimen that I do not have in my collection, I do my best to observe and enjoy these lovely creatures in life rather than in death.

Tropical and Exotic Butterflies, Mostly Purchased from Ianni; and Domestic Butterflies and Moths

Tropical and Exotic Butterflies, Mostly Purchased from Ianni; and Domestic Butterflies and Moths

The photographs in this blog post are of the majority of my Lepidoptera collection, spanning more than three decades of collecting.  The oldest butterflies and moths in my collection are at least 31 years old, with my having caught and displayed them as an independent 4-H member. 

A Display Case of Specimens, Many of a Somewhat Lesser Quality

A Display Case of Specimens, Many of a Somewhat Lesser Quality

All of my Lepidoptera display cases were made for me by my dad, who is a very talented craftsman.  The cases are made of wood, glass, and styrofoam; and are of excellent quality.  Once or twice each year, I take the time to do maintenance on my collection by replacing the moth balls (notice the folded envelopes inside the display cases – these contain moth balls) in order to deter the bugs from infesting and eating my prizes. 

In the past when I was much less experienced with maintaining my collection, I made the mistake of not placing moth balls inside the cases, and I have lost entire cases of Lepidoptera to bugs that completely disintegrated my treasures into dust.  When one sees this occurrence, one can really understand the phrase, “Ashes to ashes, and dust to dust.” 

Entomology Display Case, Holding Some Butterflies and Moths; Most Insects are Between 30-35 Years Old

Entomology Display Case, Holding Some Butterflies and Moths; Most Insects are Between 30-35 Years Old

Just last year, there were some tiny buggers that got into one of my display cases that housed many of my expensive tropical and exotic Lepidoptera.  Unfortunately, many of them were not salvageable, and I lost about one dozen or so to them.  This year, I did not lose any of my collection to the dust-creating bugs.  Thankfully, the moth balls did their job in keeping away the pests, but these crystalline chemicals do lost their potency after awhile and must be replaced in order to keep them away.

This is my collection.  These are my prized treasures.  This is my hobby about which I am most passionate.  I hope you have enjoyed viewing my collection!

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“The Abundant Skippers” (By: Michele Babcock-Nice)

Fiery Skipper, Georgia, July 2013

Fiery Skipper, Georgia, July 2013

In the past week, Middle Georgia has seen mostly sunny weather, bringing about an abundance of Skipper butterflies.  The most of any type of butterfly that I have observed in my area all summer are the Skippers. 

Fiery Skipper, Georgia, July 2013

Fiery Skipper, Georgia, July 2013

On the butterfly bushes and flowers, the Fiery Skippers (Hylephila phyleus), Clouded Skippers (Lerema accius), and Silver-spotted Skippers (Epargyreus clarus) are enjoying as much nectar from the flowers as they can take in. 

Clouded Skipper, Georgia, July 2013

Clouded Skipper, Georgia, July 2013

Previously, I had not posted any photos of Skippers on this blog because the butterflies are small and are a challenge to get into focus on my camera.  Indeed, I have taken many more photos that are blurry and unclear than those that are worthy of publishing. 

Clouded Skipper, Georgia, July 2013

Clouded Skipper, Georgia, July 2013

Indeed, it has been enjoyable to view and observe the Skippers flittering about.  They are generally dainty and cute butterflies.  They mostly have the flowers to themselves this summer, but for sharing them with bumblebees and the very few honeybees that are around if one is lucky to spot them. 

Silver-spotted Skipper, Georgia, July 2013

Silver-spotted Skipper, Georgia, July 2013

Keep your eyes open for these quick orange and/or brown butterflies the next time you are outside near your flowers.  They are so small that they are easy to miss.  Just look for the small orange or brown butterflies that are about the diameter of a dime, and you’ll see them!

Silver-spotted Skipper, Georgia, July 2013

Silver-spotted Skipper, Georgia, July 2013

The Silver-spotted Skippers are larger than the other two types, about the diameter of a quarter.  However, they are also fast-fliers and are easy to miss unless you look carefully.

“Healthy Tomato Hornworm Caterpillar” (By: Michele Babcock-Nice)

Tomato Hornworm Caterpillar Feasting on Tomato Plant, Snellville, Georgia, July 2013

Tomato Hornworm Caterpillar Feasting on Tomato Plant, Snellville, Georgia, July 2013

My mom’s garden is the perfect place for tomato hornworm caterpillars to live, grow, and develop.  With her dozen six-foot high tomato plants, there have been two tomato hornworm caterpillars feasting on the tender top leaves of two of the giant plants.  While the great amount of rain and lack of sunshine we have had this summer in middle Georgia has slowed the ripening of the tomatoes, it has not slowed the growth of the caterpillars! 

Our resident male cardinal also appears to be happy about the habitation of the tomato hornworm caterpillars in my mom’s garden because he seems to have evicted one of them, having it end up in his stomach!  Normally, my mom would view these caterpillars as pests to her garden, though through being educated by me in Lepidoptera and entomology, she now allows them to eat her garden plants.  We hope that the lone surviving adult caterpillar will make it through metamorphosis and become a lovely tomato hornworm moth.

“Visit the Florida Museum of Natural History’s Butterfly Rainforest!” (By: Michele Babcock-Nice)

Butterfly Rainforest habitat at the Florida Museum of Natural History, University of Florida, Gainesville, April 2013

Butterfly Rainforest Habitat at the Florida Museum of Natural History, University of Florida, Gainesville, April 2013

Two weeks ago, my son and I visited the fabulous Florida Museum of Natural History at the University of Florida, Gainesville Campus!  If you are a Lepidoptera lover, this is a place that I highly recommend that you visit!  In the entomology section of the museum there is a Butterfly Rainforest; a laboratory; caterpillar rearing exhibits; a pupae room; display cases of butterflies, moths, and other insects; nearly a three-storied high display of butterflies and moths in cases and/or photographs of them; models of butterflies and moths; and videos about butterflies that are presented. 

Butterfly in Butterfly Rainforest at Florida Museum of Natural History, Gainesville, April 2013

Morpho Butterfly (Morpho peleides) Getting Nourishment in Butterfly Rainforest Habitat at Florida Museum of Natural History, Gainesville, April 2013

The Florida Museum of Natural History includes a Butterfly Rainforest within a section that is devoted mostly to Lepidoptera – butterflies, moths, caterpillars, and pupae.  The Butterfly Rainforest is a tropically-styled habitat for butterflies and moths, and it includes many trees, plants, flowers, birds, fish, and turtles.  In the Butterfly Rainforest, we observed many different species of tropical butterflies, photographs of some of which are included in this post. 

Owl Butterfly (Caligo memnon) in Butterfly Rainforest Habitat at Florida Museum of Natural History, Gainesville, April 2013

Owl Butterfly (Caligo memnon or Caligo idomeneus) in Butterfly Rainforest Habitat at Florida Museum of Natural History, Gainesville, April 2013

To me, the most beautiful of the butterflies in the Butterfly Rainforest were the Morpho butterflies.  The large Morphos (Morpho peleides) in the Butterfly Rainforest Habitat have eyespots on the undersides of their brown wings, and have a beautiful, irridescent blue color on the upper side of their wings.  The striking, large Owl butterflies (Caligo memnon or Caligo idomeneus), also with beautiful eyespots, were also wonderful to view.

Idea leuconoe Butterfly in Butterfly Rainforest Habitat at Florida Museum of Natural History, Gainesville, April 2013

Paper Kite (Idea leuconoe) Butterfly in Butterfly Rainforest Habitat at Florida Museum of Natural History, Gainesville, April 2013

There were also several Paper Kite butterflies (Idea leuconoe) in the Butterfly Rainforest Habitat.  These butterflies may also be known as Rice Paper butterflies or Large Tree Nymph butterflies.  They butterflies are large, with a wingspan of about 4″-5″, and have black and white stripes on their wings.  They are slow and deliberate in their flight, and remind me of kites that are flying in the wind.

Parthenos sylvia Butterfly in Butterfly Rainforest Habitat at Florida Museum of Natural History, Gainesville, April 2013

Brown Clipper Butterfly (Parthenos sylvia brown) in Butterfly Rainforest Habitat at Florida Museum of Natural History, Gainesville, April 2013

A couple of other butterflies that my son and I enjoyed observing in the Butterfly Rainforest Habitat included the Brown Clipper (Parthenos sylvia brown) and Blue Clipper (Parthenos sylvia blue).  This butterfly has two color forms – brown and blue – and is respectively native to the Phillipines and Malaysia.  Both butterflies are beautiful to behold.  They are fast fliers; and their stripes resemble those of tigers.

Blue Clipper Butterfly (Parthenos sylvia blue) in Butterfly Rainforest Habitat at Florida Museum of Natural History, Gainesville, April 2013

Blue Clipper Butterfly (Parthenos sylvia blue) in Butterfly Rainforest Habitat at Florida Museum of Natural History, Gainesville, April 2013

A very unique feature of the Florida Museum of Natural History, Lepidoptera and Entomology Section, is the Butterfly Wall.  This wall is nearly three stories high, and contains photographs of butterflies and moths, as well as display cases that show them.  It is extremely impressive!  Following are photographs of the Butterfly Wall, as well as certain sections of it.  Also to follow are pictures of the Pupae Room and Caterpillar Rearing Area.  Some of the photos may also include my son.

Section of Butterfly Wall in Florida Museum of Natural History, Gainesville, April 2013

Section of Butterfly Wall and my Son in Florida Museum of Natural History, Gainesville, April 2013

Large Section of Butterfly Wall in Florida Museum of Natural History, Gainesville, April 2013

Large Section of Butterfly Wall in Florida Museum of Natural History, Gainesville, April 2013

Section of Butterfly Wall in Florida Museum of Natural History, Gainesville, April 2013

Section of Butterfly Wall in Florida Museum of Natural History, Gainesville, April 2013

Pupae Area in Florida Museum of Natural History, Gainesville, April 2013

Pupae Room, and my Son, in Florida Museum of Natural History, Gainesville,
April 2013

Pupae Area with Exotic Moths in Florida Museum of Natural History, Gainesville, April 2013

Pupae Room with Exotic Moths, and my Son, in Florida Museum of Natural History, Gainesville, April 2013

Io Moth Caterpillars Being Raised in the Florida Museum of Natural History, Gainesville, April 2013

Silkworm Moth Caterpillars Being Raised in the Florida Museum of Natural History, Gainesville, April 2013

Butterfly Caterpillars Being Raised in the Florida Museum of Natural History, Gainesville, April 2013

Butterfly Caterpillars Being Raised in the Florida Museum of Natural History, Gainesville, April 2013

Also included in the Museum were many display cases that presented butterflies, moths, and other insects.  Following are photos of a few of the display cases. 

A Butterfly Display Case in the Florida Museum of Natural History, Gainesville, April 2013

A Butterfly Display Case in the Florida Museum of Natural History, Gainesville, April 2013

A Moth Display Case Showing Males and Females of the Same Species in the Florida Museum of Natural History, Gainesville, April 2013

A Moth Display Case Showing Males and Females of the Same Species in the Florida Museum of Natural History, Gainesville, April 2013

An Exotic Moth Display Case in the Florida Museum of Natural History, Gainesville, April 2013

An Exotic Moth and Butterfly Display Case in the Florida Museum of Natural History, Gainesville, April 2013

Videos educating visitors about Lepidoptera were also available for viewing at the Museum.  While my son and I were there, we watched a portion of a video about Monarch butterflies.  It was great to be able to explain to my son how Monarchs migrate and roost.

Video About Monarch Butterflies at the Florida Museum of Natural History, Gainesville, April 2013

Video About Monarch Butterflies (Danaus plexippus)) and my Son, at the Florida Museum of Natural History, Gainesville, April 2013

All of the butterflies in the Butterfly Rainforest Habitat were a real treat to watch as they flew throughout the enclosure, with a few landing on their human observers.  In all, we spent about two hours at the Florida Museum of Natural History, also enjoying the Titanoboa Exhibit.  We had a really great time there, and wish we could have stayed longer!

“Pipevine Swallowtail Butterfly Clusters” (By: Michele Babcock-Nice)

Cluster of Pipevine Swallowtail Butterflies, Cherokee, North Carolina, USA, July 2010

Cluster of Pipevine Swallowtail Butterflies, Cherokee, North Carolina, USA, July 2010

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. 

Cluster of Pipevine Swallowtail Butterflies in Cherokee, North Carolina, USA, July 2010

Cluster of Pipevine Swallowtail Butterflies in Cherokee, North Carolina, USA, July 2010

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.

Cluster of Pipevine Swallowtail Butterflies, Cherokee, North Carolina, USA, July 2010

Cluster of Pipevine Swallowtail Butterflies, Cherokee, North Carolina, USA, July 2010

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.

“Splendid Cloudless Giant Sulphur Butterflies” (By: Michele Babcock-Nice)

Cloudless Giant Sulphur Butterfly, October 3, 2012, Georgia, USA

Cloudless Giant Sulphur Butterfly, October 3, 2012, Georgia, USA

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. 

Cloudless Giant Sulphur Butterfly, October 3, 2012, Georgia, USA

Cloudless Giant Sulphur Butterfly, October 3, 2012, Georgia, USA

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.

Cloudless Giant Sulphur Butterflies, October 3, 2012, Georgia, USA

Cloudless Giant Sulphur Butterflies, October 3, 2012, Georgia, USA

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.

“Beautiful Monarch Butterfly” (By: Michele Babcock-Nice)

Female Monarch Butterfly, September 29, 2012, Georgia, USA

Female Monarch Butterfly, September 29, 2012, Georgia, USA

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. 

Female Monarch Butterfly, September 29, 2012, Georgia, USA

Female Monarch Butterfly, September 29, 2012, Georgia, USA

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!

Female Monarch Butterfly, September 29, 2012, Georgia, USA

Female Monarch Butterfly, September 29, 2012, Georgia, USA

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.

“Butterflies that I’ve Never Before Seen in Georgia” (By: Michele Babcock-Nice)

This Spring and Summer of 2012, there are two butterflies that I saw flying around my neighborhood here in Georgia that I’ve never seen before.  In May 2012, I saw a Zebra Swallowtail (Eurytides marcellus), and in late August and early September 2012, there was a Zebra Longwing (Heliconius charitonius) that often visited the flowers in the yard. 

In 12 years of living in Georgia, I have never before had the pleasure of observing these two species of butterflies here.  As a girl, I had seen them flying about in Florida, and considered them somewhat more of tropical types of Lepidoptera, although they really are not true tropical butterflies.  It seems, however, that they may sometimes prefer habitats that are more hot and/or moist (wet and/or humid).

The Zebra Swallowtail has wings that are long, resembling triangles, with tails that are swordlike.  It’s colors include white to bluish-green with black bands and stripes.  It also has blue and red spots on it’s wings; and the sizes and colors of the butterfly vary with the spring and summer seasons.  The Zebra Swallowtail is commonly seen in Washington, DC and Virginia, though it’s range includes Ontario, Canada, the Lake States, Southern New England States, and along the Atlanta Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico and Florida (Pyle, p. 348). 

The Zebra Longwing has wings that are narrow and long, colored in black and banded with yellow stripes.  It also has red spots on the bases of it’s wings.  The habitat of the Zebra Longwing includes thick woods, forest edges, and hammocks.  It is the State butterfly of Florida, and ranges from South Carolina to Texas, south through Latin America and the West Indies, while also appearing west to Southern California and Colorado (Pyle, p. 541).

Both of these are beautiful butterflies, and it is has been a real treat to see them flying around here in Georgia this year!  I have wondered whether or not observing them in Georgia this year is a sign of climate change and the butterflies possibly becoming more common in this area and/or extending their habitats into places in which they are more rare or unusual.  It was so incredibly hot here this summer, I would suspect that the intense heat and global warming potentially influenced the ranges of these butterflies this year.

References

Pyle, Robert M. (1981).  The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Butterflies.  New York: Alfred A. Knopf , Inc.

Zebra Longwing Butterfly.  “Welcome to Florida.”  September 16, 2012.  http://eikaiwa-blog.blogspot.com/2010/10/zebra-longwing.html.

Zebra Swallowtail Butterfly.  “Arkansas State Parks Blog: Stories and Information from Arkansas State Parks.”  September 16, 2012.  http://arkansasstateparks.wordpress.com/category/wildlife/butterflies/.

“Tiger Swallowtail Duo” (By: Michele Babcock-Nice)

Tiger Swallowtail Butterflies with Bumblebee, Georgia, USA, September 2012

There was a beautiful duo of Tiger Swallowtail butterflies alight on the same butterfly bush flower this morning, along with a bumblebee, so I just had to share this photo.  When I had looked outside, there were originally three Tiger Swallowtails on this same flower, but by the time I got outside, the third was already flying around the yard.

Tiger Swallowtail Butterflies, Georgia, USA, September 2012

There have been many Tiger Swallowtails and Black Form Tiger Swallowtails, as well as Gulf Fritillaries, Skippers, Sulphurs, Buckeyes, and Painted Ladies flying around the flowers in the past two to three weeks.  I have also seen two butterflies of a more tropical variety, about which I will devote my next post.  Enjoy!

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly – Female Black Form (By: Michele Babcock-Nice)

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail – Female Black Form, Georgia, USA, July 24, 2012

Yesterday – July 24, 2012 – there was a pair of Eastern Tiger Swallowtails (Papilio glaucus) of the Female Black Form feasting on the nectar of our backyard garden flowers.  The one pictured in my photos in this blog enjoyed remaining on the flowers for much of the day.  She was very large, having a wingspan of between 4″-5,” I would estimate.  This butterfly was so big, she could have initally been mistaken for a bird or bat, if one only caught a quick glimpse.  She was certainly a beauty to behold!

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail – Female Black Form, Georgia, USA, July 24, 2012

When I was a kid, I always thought that this Female Black Form of the Tiger Swallowtail was a Black Swallowtail.  Educating myself with my own studies and interest in entomology and Lepidoptera, I believed this butterfly was another beautiful type of Black Swallowtail.  As I got older, I realized that this Black Female Form appeared very much like the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, and I believed that I may have come across a new species!  On continuing to research this butterfly, I finally found that I had not discovered a new species, but was graced with the presence of a morphed form of the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail. 

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail – Female Black Form, Georgia, USA, July 24, 2012

The Female Black Form of the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail mimics and is similar to the Pipevine Swallowtail, and is generally found where pipevine grows.  That would make sense in my area since pipevine grows here in Georgia, and Pipevine Swallowtails are present here, as well.  I have found that Pipevine Swallowtails, however, are more common in heavily-wooded and forested areas, particularly those of the North Georgia Mountains, Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina, and Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee, where they are annually-numerous.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail – Female Black Form, Georgia, USA, July 24, 2012

While this lovely beauty of a butterfly laid claim to the backyard garden flowers, yesterday, I have not seen her again today as I had expected.  I hope that she is feasting, enjoyably, elsewhere today, and that a predator has not made a meal out of her.  She was in perfect condition when I observed her, and I expect that she had only just recently hatched from her chrysalis.  By the size of her body, one could also guess that she had not yet laid her eggs, either.  It was wonderful to see and photograph this beautiful butterfly!