Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Zebra Swallowtail

Zebra Swallowtail, Eurytides marcellus, is a common visitor to our property here in west central Maryland.  The native range for this species is the south eastern US.  One reason we have so many is the abundance of  the native Pawpaw trees (Asimina triloba) which are the host plants for the Zebra Swallowtail's caterpillars.  

This Zebra Swallowtail is checking out the thermal blanket on our pool.
It's probably looking for some moisture.

This was one of the first butterflies to visit us this spring, showing up in the first part of April (didn't have my camera handy).  At that time it was feeding on nectar from the purple deadnettle, Lamium purpureum, that shares space in our lawn and woodlands.  When gathering nectar it is usually vibrating in a sort of feeding frenzy and it is hard to get a good photo.

A shutter speed of 1/40 is too slow to still those fluttering wings.

Yesterday while working around the pool I spotted one of these, most likely in search of moisture.  It was moving a little slower, so I could get some clearer photos.  This is the first time that I noticed it with its wings folded up and being relatively still.  

The tips of the swallowtail look like the antennae of the pseudo-butterfly.
The striped body is pretty cool, too.

What hit me here was that, when folded up, the wing shape of this swallowtail looks like another butterfly pointing in the opposite direction.  That has got to come in handy when predators are about.

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