Desperately Seeking Swallowtails

While doing some weeding the other day, I was pleased to see a Black Swallowtail butterfly – the first one I’ve seen in our own garden this year.

DSC_0920

It’s not an exaggeration to say we’ve laid out the welcome mat for the Black Swallowtails. Not only does our yard have an abundance of nectar plants throughout the growing season, but we’ve got lots of the host plants utilized by their  caterpillars.

DSC_0940

There’s loads of parsley (Petroselinum crispum) growing in the ground and in pots. I’ve got six foot tall Bronze Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) that’s threatening to take over the whole Herb Garden. I would have Dill (Anethum graveolens), but it’s always eaten by the Hoppity Evil Ones, the Cotton-Tailed Destroyers of Worlds.

DSC_0930

Anyway, we do have Black Swallowtail caterpillars. I haven’t actually seen them this year, but I’ve seen the aftermath of their snack attacks.

prunus
Prunus virginiana’s purple foliage.

We haven’t seen any Eastern Tiger Swallowtails this year, though we have seen them in the past. This spring I planted two native ‘Schubert’ wild cherries (Prunus virginiana). Prunus is one of quite a few genera that serve as host plants for the Eastern Tiger Swallowtails, including Willows (Salix), Birch (Betula), and Cottonwood (Populus).

DSC_0824
Dutchman’s Pipe growing on our back fence.

 

After a couple of unsuccessful attempts, I finally got a host plant for the Pipevine Swallowtail established: Dutchmans Pipevine (Aristolochia macrophylla). This is the first year it’s gotten to a significant size. I’m trying to grow it up a snag I’ve attached to the back fence.

We’ve never seen any Pipevine Swallowtails, but I hope that changes.

2014-10-20 09.26.15 spicebush fall foliage
Spicebush has nice fall color. 

Another Swallowtail I’ve never seen is the Spicebush Swallowtail. This despite the fact that I’ve had several Spicebush (Lindera benzoin) for seven years at least. Spicebush is a gardenworthy shrub whether the Spicebush Swallowtails show up or not. However, I must admit to feeling a little hurt by their neglect. At least the Black Swallowtails don’t ignore us.

Fortunately, none of these Swallowtails are at risk, but I do wonder why we don’t see more of them in the garden.

Are you seeing many Swallowtails these days?

38 Comments on “Desperately Seeking Swallowtails

  1. I’ve been seeing black swallowtails here and there (on the Texas coastal plain) — perhaps a half dozen in the wild. Just today, I got my first decent photo of one. It was missing one of its tails, but otherwise looked quite spiffy as it rested on some marsh fleabane.

  2. A few black swallowtails and a few more yellow. Theres practically a wall of fennel in the front garden yet I haven’t seen a caterpillar yet. Could be all the bees and wasps the flowers attract, or hopefully I’m just missing them.

  3. I have seen a number of swallowtails, including the black ones. But not as many as I hope to see soon, as I also have planted a number of host and nectar plants for them. Butterflies seem to increase toward the end of summer here, probably as they begin migration.

      • Could it be that they pass through your area at a different time? We have a lot of yellow swallowtails during lilac and rhododendron bloom and then we don’t see them much. They LOVE our lilacs–and it makes for exquisite photos!

  4. I haven’t seen many butterflies this year, period. I finally saw my first Monarch since spring this past week, and yesterday a Tiger Swallowtail came by to visit the coneflowers. Usually, though, we have lots of Black Swallowtails, and I haven’t seen one. I’m hoping maybe they are just late this year? On the other hand, the bird population here is thriving, and if we had any swallowtail cats at all, they may have been devoured by the birds.

  5. Beautiful photographs. We have had some fluttering by’s but no one has landed long enough. And certainly not long enough when I have any sort of camera with me. Guess ours are camera shy. Glad for seeing a few butterflies this year.

  6. What beautiful shots of the black swallowtail! Our native ‘Old World Swallowtail’ is elusive and I only caught a glimpse of just one last summer. No sign of any this year yet.

  7. Such a beauty! Despite the frequent thunderstorms we are still getting (hooray for rain!), we seem to have a good number of butterflies in our area this summer.

    • Not too many sightings so far, but with pentas and milkweed now blooming full force I’m hoping word gets out that the buffet is open. I would take a picture of the butterflies visiting this morning, but I was too comfy drinking coffee in the shade to go get my phone to take pictures. It’s hot in central Florida. 🙂 Love your posts, btw.

  8. I’ve seen a few, but not many – keep checking the dill but so far, no caterpillars either. Am always on the lookout, though.

  9. Not just a whole lot of any butterflies. Early sprig we had Tigers, Black and Spicebush but none lately. I am afraid it is too dry for them. I am blaming everything on the drought. I have tried to grow Dutchman’s Pipe here. No luck. Seeing your success makes me want to try again. With all your garden has to offer I bet there will soon be those you are trying to lure in.

  10. We’ve seen Monarchs (2 yesterday!), Tiger Swallowtails, and a few days ago, what I believe was a Polygonia interrogationalis, which I have never seen before. I live in far northwest side of Chicago.

    • I had to look up P. interrogationalis – the Question Mark. I have seen those on occasion. Saw two Monarchs when I went outside this morning!

  11. I think I saw one a couple of days ago, but it flitted away rather fast. Yesterday a monarch drifted into the backyard, then out again. Hey! Check out my milkweed, dummy!

  12. There was a black swallowtail in my garden this morning, but I’m hoping that, since it’s mid-July, the Monarchs and swallowtails have yet to appear in force. Your photos are great

  13. The same day you posted this I had first an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail in the echinacea, and then as I was getting ready to go in, a Black Swallowtail showed up. You got great pictures!

  14. What a beautiful butterfly, I do hope you get more, you should do given the banquet you are providing.xxx

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: