Category Archives: Black Swallowtail Butterfly

WHERE HAVE ALL THE BUTTERFLIES GONE?

In thinking about where have all the butterflies gone, I am reminded of the poignant song written by Pete Seeger “Where Have All the Flowers Gone,” which although a song about the futility of war, sums up much about the environmental impact of habitat loss. Without wildflower habitat, there will be no pollinators of any sort.

Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time ago.

Buckeye and Seaside Goldenrod

Where have all the butterflies gone? Different species of butterfly populations fluctuate from year to year. For example, some years you may see far greater numbers of Buckeyes, the next year not so much. That same year you may hardly see any Tiger Swallowtails but will the following.

That being said,, everyone must realize that every year there are fewer butterflies than the year before. Butterflies thrive in meadows, the very same topography that is the easiest to build upon. Every time a new house or shopping mall is built on a meadow, we decrease not just butterfly habitat, but a whole community of wildlife habitat.

In the above photo you can see a Monarch with a Black Swallowtail flying overhead. This stunning patch of wildflowers and nectar plants was sited in Gloucester at a prime spot for Monarchs to rest and refuel after migrating across Massachusetts Bay. The new home owners ripped out most of the wildflowers and planted the site in a more formal style, with non-native perennials and shrubs. At this location, I would often see Monarchs, Tiger Swallowtails, Black Swallowtails, Painted and American Ladies, Sulphurs, and many other species. That is no longer true.

Tiger Swallowtail drinking nectar from Joe Pye-weed at the same wildflower patch, no longer in existence.

Butterfly and bee populations are declining overall, not only because of habitat loss, but because of the unbridled use of herbicides and pesticides in agriculture and home lawn care.

Butterflies are especially sensitive to fluctuations in weather, and also to overall climate change. This year we had a long, cold wet spring. The inclement weather is continuing, too, from a butterflies perspective, because although we are seeing some warmer temperatures the past few days, it has mostly been rainy, foggy, or overcast. Butterflies thrive during long stretches of sunny, hot weather. Their wings don’t work very well in the damp and cold. Because of global climate change, we have seen a seven percent increase in precipitation worldwide.

One of the best years I have ever seen for dozens and dozens of species of butterflies, including Monarchs, in the Northeast, was the summer and fall of 2012. That year, we had a warm winter followed by a warm spring, then a warm, dry summer, and a long, warm Indian summer. It was butterfly bonanza that summer and autumn!Adding to people’s concern is the fact that last year, there was an abundance of spring rain that in turn created an extraordinary wildflower bloom in Texas, which got all the butterflies off to a good start. In 2019, we were seeing Monarchs as early as early June, which was very unusual for Cape Ann. Folks are comparing this year to that of 2019, however, 2019 was not an average year.

Monarchs are a case unto themselves. Their spring and summer numbers depend upon a variety of additional conditions, including how successful was the previous year’s autumn migration, whether or not there were nectar providing wildflowers on their northward and southward  migrations, and wind and weather conditions from Canada to Mexico.

Note the bar graph in that the eastern population of the Monarchs plummeted by half, according to this year’s spring count by the World Wildlife Fund Mexico.

Particularly in the northeast, the wind patterns during the Monarchs spring northward migration matter tremendously. My friend Charmaine at Point Pelee, in southern Ontario, which is 49 degrees latitude (we are 43 degrees latitude) has been raising and releasing Monarchs for over a month now, while most of us on Cape Ann have only seen a smattering. The Monarchs moved this year in a straight northward trajectory. If the wind does not blow from west to east during some part of their northward migration, far fewer will end up along the eastern shores.Monarchs and Seaside Goldenrod

All is not lost. I am 90 percent certain we will soon be seeing some of our migratory and non-migratory local populations, we just need some good weather. They are later than usual, but not gone entirely.

For so many more reasons, I am hopeful for the future of wildlife and their habitats and see such tremendous, positive change. Despite the current administration’ s extremely harmful stance against the environment, many, many individuals and organizations are gaining a deeper appreciation about the importance of habitats and taking positive action. Many have made it their life’s work. These individuals and organizations are creating wildlife sanctuaries and conserving existing habitats. If the Monarch is declared an endangered species, that will surely bring an added awarenesses and increased federal spending for protecting and creating habitats.

How can you help the Monarchs, which in turn will help myriad species of other butterflies and pollinators? Plant wildflowers! Both Marsh and Common Milkweed for their northward migration, and lots of nectar-rich later summer blooming wildflowers for their southward migration, including New England Aster, Smooth Aster, Purple-stemmed Aster, Seaside Goldenrod, and Canada Goldenrod.Monarchs and New England Aster

WHEN A WEED IS NOT A WEED and Why Joe-Pye is So Darn Lovable!

A bodacious beauty possessing the toughest of traits, Joe-Pye Weed (Eutrochium) is the stalwart star of the eastern native plants garden. Large, airy dome-shaped flowerheads blooming in a range of shades from pink to lavender to purple provide food, by way of nectar, foliage, and seed heads to myriad species of bees, butterflies, and songbirds. Beginning in mid-July and continuing through mid-October, pollinators on the wing can find sustenance in a garden planted with Little Joes and Big Joes.

Joe Pye, the person, is thought to have been a North Carolina Native American medicine man who used these wildflowers to cure many ailments, including typhoid fever. The plants became know as Joe Pye’s weed.

A name changer from weed to wildflower would be a game changer for numerous species of native plants. Why do so many native wildflowers have the suffix weed? Because when the colonists arrived from Europe, they wanted their crops, as well as European cultivated flowers, to grow in their new gardens. Anything native that interfered with their plans was deemed a “weed.” Examples of beautiful and invaluable North American native pollinator plants with the name given weed are milkweed (Asclepias), sneezeweed (Helenium), ironweed (Veronia), and jewelweed (Impatiens capensis).

Three favorite and fabulous species for the New England landscape are Eutrochium purpureum, E. maculatum, and E. dubium. Joe-pye grows beautifully in average to moist soil, in full sun to light shade. Plant Joe-pye in the back of the border. E.purpurem grows five to seven feet tall, while Little Joe grows three to five feet. With their beautiful blossoms, robust habit, winter hardiness, and disease resistance, these long blooming members of the sunflower family are treasured for their ability to attract an array of butterflies, bees, and songbirds to the garden during the mid- to late-summer season.

Just look at this sampling of the different species of Lepidoptera finding noursihment from the blossoms of Joe-Pye!


Tiger Swallowtail

Painted Lady
Black Swallowtail

 

Monarch

Joe-Pye does especially well in a coastal native plants garden.

If you enjoyed reading this post, I hope you will consider donating to the completion of my documentary film Beauty on the Wing: Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly. Every contribution is tremendously appreciated. For more information on how you can help, please visit the film’s website at http://www.monarchbutterflyfilm.com

LEARN HOW YOU CAN HELP THE POLLINATORS AT THE SAWYER FREE LIBRARY TONIGHT!

Seaside Goldenrod for Bees and Butterflies

Come on over to the Sawyer Free Library tonight and learn how you can create a welcoming haven for birds, bees, and butterflies!

Plant Cosmos for the Songbirds, Bees, and Butterflies

Marsh Milkweed for the Butterflies and Bees

Male and Female Luna Moths

Zinnias for Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, Bees, and Butterflies

Mexican Sunflower and Bee

Monarch and Hibiscus

Kim Smith Pollinator Garden Talk at the Sawyer Free Library

Dear Friends,

Please join me April 6th at 7pm, at the Sawyer Free Library where I will be giving my Pollinator Garden talk and screening several short films. The event is free and open to the public. I am looking forward to presenting this program at our wonderful Sawyer Free and hope to see you there!!

Thank you to Diana Cummings at the Sawyer Free Library for making the lovely poster!

Echinacea and Bee

Kim Smith Pollinator Garden Lecture at the Sawyer Free Library

Love this poster Diana Cummings made for my talk at the Sawyer Free next month. Many thanks to Diana!

The Traveling Terrarium

On Tuesday morning, October 4th, I’ll be at the Corinthian Yacht Club in Marblehead to give my lecture on “The Pollinator Garden,” at 9:30am. I hope to see you there!

anderson-family-copyright-kim-smith

No, That is Not a Monarch Caterpillar on Your Carrot Plant

By far the most popular post on my website is titled “No, That is Not a Monarch Caterpillar on Your Parsley Plant.” It has been the most trafficked post for several years, if you can believe it, and here is why.

Last fall, almost exactly to the day, through my office window I heard the sound of sweet voices on our front porch, well after dark, and wondered what our neighborhood dog walkers were doing out so late. It wasn’t dog walkers, but our neighbor Sharon and her son Treely, wondering what to do with what they thought was a Monarch caterpillar they had found in their garden. I sent them on their way with one of our terrariums and instructions on how to care for their little Black Swallowtail caterpillar.

Treely’s Black Swallowtail caterpillar turned into a chrysalis (in other words, pupated), spent the winter in the terrarium in a sheltered spot outdoors, and then emerged right on schedule this past spring. The Dowds returned the terrarium as it was needed later in the summer for our Cecropia Moth caterpillars.

Imagine how sweetly funny to get a call from my friend Michelle, wondering what to do with their newly discovered Monarch caterpillar. My first question to Michelle was did she find the caterpillar on her milkweed? No, she reported, it was found on carrot foliage. Michelle and her children, Meadow and Atticus, along with friend Sabine, stopped by this afternoon to learn about how to take care of their tiny little Black Swallowtail caterpillar and I sent them on their way with the ‘traveling terrarium.’

If you find a caterpillar in your garden, the first clue to identifying is to see on what food plant they are munching. Caterpillars that are actively feeding are usually only found on their larval host plant(s), the plant they have developed a distinctive coevolutionary relationship with over millennia. For example, female Monarch butterfly caterpillars deposit their eggs only on members of the milkweed family. Black Swallowtail caterpillars eat the foliage only from plants in the carrot family, which includes carrots, parsley, dill, fennel, parsnips, and Queen Anne’s lace. You may have noticed if ever weeding Queen Anne’s lace that the root looks identical in shape to a carrot, only it is white.

Chances are, you will never find a Black Swallowtail caterpillar on you milkweed plants and conversely, you will never find a Monarch caterpillar on your carrot plant (or parsley, dill, or fennel).

I am excited to hear from Michelle and the kids how their little caterpillar is developing over the next few weeks!

Vote Today to Choose the Massachusetts State Butterfly!

Here’s how you can help choose the Massachusetts state butterfly –

The choice is between the Black Swallowtail, the Great Spangled Fritillary, and the Mourning Cloak butterflies. All three are beautiful species of Lepidoptera, but as you know from my work, I am partial to the Black Swallowtail. I cast my vote for the Black Swallowtail and here is why. Both the Great Spangled Fritillary and Mourning Cloak are less commonly seen. I’d like children who are developing an interest in butterflies to have the opportunity to get to know their state butterfly easily. Black Swallowtails are widespread and very well-known. In a good year, Black Swallowtails will have two broods. The caterpillars eat plants kids can easily identify and plant, such as carrots, dill, fennel, parsley, and the common wildflower Queen Anne’s Lace. Black Swallowtails are typically on the wing throughout the summer, beginning in early spring through late summer.

On the other hand, the Great Spangled Fritillary caterpillars eat strictly violet plants. This butterfly is usually only seen for about a month, during mid-summer, and has one brood of caterpillars. In our region of Massachusetts, the Mourning Cloak may have a second brood, if we have an early spring, but I only see them in spring, near pussywillows, and again in the fall when they are getting ready to hibernate.

Black Swallowtails are found in backyards, gardens, meadows, marshes, and along the shoreline. They love to drink nectar from wildflowers, including milkweed (as you can see in the short film below) and many, many common garden plants such as lilacs, coneflowers, zinnias, and butterfly bush.

Please vote here: VOTE MASSACHUSETTS STATE BUTTERFLY

great-spangled-fritillary-coneflower-gloucester-harborwalk-copyright-kim-smith

mourning_cloak_butterfly_in_south_central_alaska

Kim’s Upcoming Lectures and Workshops

Dear Friends,

Please join me tonight at 7pm at the Sea Spray Garden Club  where I will be giving my “Habitat Garden” workshop and screening several short films. This event is free and open to the public. I hope to see you there!

I am looking forward to presenting the “Pollinator Garden” program for the Winter Garden Club of Marblehead on the morning of October 4th. On October 17th. I am the guest speaker for the Sharon Garden Club and will be presenting the lecture “Beauty on the Wing; Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly.” For more information please visit the  Events Page of my website.

I am currently booking programs for 2016-2017-2018 and would be delighted to present to your club, library, school, and private or public event. See the Programs Page of my website and feel free to contact me at kimsmithdesigns@hotmail.com with any questions.

Read what Mim Frost, the Program Chair for the Ipswich Town and Country Garden Club, had to say about the Life Story of the Black Swallowtail Butterfly film and program that I recently gave to her club:

Hi Kim.

How often does something you’ve looked forward to for a long time live up to your expectations? Not often. But last night at Ebsco your presentation, including your film, your comments and your Q&A were just about perfect in my book! I’ll smile as I remember the evening.

I liked having the trailer for the monarch film first. You gave the group something to look forward to. Jesse Cook’s music is an excellent choice, I think. I drum to his music often. I was pleased with the questions and with your answers. It’s obvious you’ve done a lot of research. The way you answered questions made the group comfortable. Very nice! And the film. What can I say. I’d seen clips, but seeing the whole thing was something I won’t forget. I especially liked your reference to other butterflies and your comparison of the swallowtail with the monarch. Liv’s voice was just right for the commentary!

I know from experience that the presenter is the harshest critic of the presentation. I hope you were feeling pleased with your work last night. I’d be happy to repeat the whole evening!

All the best to you,

Mim

 

 

SCREENING OF MY FILM LIFE STORY OF THE BLACK SWALLOWTAIL BUTTERFLY

Black Swallowtail Butterfly angle ©Kim Smith 2011Please join me tomorrow night in Nashua, New Hampshire for a screening of my film Life Story of the Black Swallowtail Butterfly. For more information visit the Events page of my website. I hope to see you there!

Next week I am giving programs in Brockton and Nauset however in early November I’ll be home, with a screening of the Black Swallowtail film for the Seaside Garden Club at the Manchester Community Center on the 10th, and on the 12th of November I am the guest speaker at the Sawyer Free Library!

Black swallowtail Caterpillar ©Kim Smith 2011 copyBlack Swallowtail Caterpillar

Life Story of the Black Swallowtail Butterfly is a 45-minute narrated film that takes place in a garden and at the sea’s edge. Every stage of the butterfly’s life cycle is experienced in vibrant close-up, from conception to pupation to metamorphosis. The film is suitable for all ages so all can gain a deeper understanding of the symbiotic relationship between wildflowers and pollinators and the vital role they play in our ecosystem. Filmed in Gloucester, Massachusetts. Discussion and Q & A with the filmmaker to follow screening.

Queen Annes's Lace -4 ©Kim smith 2015Queen Anne’s Lace, Black Swallowtail Caterpillar food Plant

Queen Anne’s Lace

Queen Annes's Lace -3 ©Kim smith 2015Queen Annes's Lace ©Kim smith 2015Although not a native North American wildflower, Queen Anne’s Lace has adapted to our climate well, reportedly growing in every state save for Idaho, Alaska, and Hawaii. A member of the Umbelliferae, or Carrot Family, Queen Anne’s Lace also goes by the common names Wild Carrot, Bird’s Nest, and Bishops’s Lace. The root of young plants, although white, tastes like a carrot, and when rubbed together between fingers, the foliage smells of parsley (also a member of the Umbel Family).

Black Swallowtail osmeterium ©Kim Smith 2011 copyQueen Anne’s Lace is a caterpillar food plant of the Black Swallowtail Butterfly. Don’t despair butterfly lovers. Although the butterflies have been slow to awaken this year, I have high hopes that just as flowering plants are several weeks behind, so too will the the butterflies emerge–only later than expected.

Black Swallowtail Butterfly Zinnia Male ©Kim Smith 2013.Please join me Tuesday evening  at 7pm at the Chelmsford Public Library for my lecture The Pollinator Garden. The event is free and open to the public. I hope to see you there!

Queen Annes's Lace -4 ©Kim smith 2015

Addendum ~

Reader Wendy Beer writes and submits terrific photo of a Black Swallowtail caterpillar on Queen Anne’s Lace:

Hi Kim,

I came across your web site when I was trying to find out what kind of caterpillar I had in my back yard. I was thrilled to find your website and now am following your updates. Thank you so much for answering my question about the Queen Anne’s lace and the Black Swallowtail Butterfly. I have attached the picture I took in my back yard (London, Ontario) for you.

Cheers.

Sincerely,
Wendy Beer

Black Swallowtail Butterfly June 2015

Black Swallowtail Caterpillar Pupating at O’Maley Innovation School Butterfly Garden!

IMG_3008Thank you to Emma Duckworth for providing this breaking caterpillar news! 

IMG_3007Emma Duckworth Photos

My Pollinator Garden Program Open to the Public!

Please join me for a special event on Thursday evening at 7pm at the Tewksbury Public Library where I will be giving my Pollinator Garden program. This event is free and open to the general public. I hope to see you there!

I am currently booking programs for 2016-2017 and would be delighted to present to your club, library, school, and private or public event. See the Programs Page of my website and feel free to contact me at kimsmithdesigns@hotmail.com with any questions.

This past week I presented a screening and Q&A of Life Story of the Black Swallowtail Butterfly film and program to the Ipswich Town and Country Garden Club. Marion Frost, two time past President and six time Program Chair for the club had some very kind things to say about my program. Marion grew up in Gloucester!

Read Marion’s note here.

The short film BomBom Butterflies, winner of the Rockport Film Festival’s People’s Choice Award, gives a glimpse of the full length documentary Life Story of the Black Swallowtail Butterfly.

Ipswich Town and Country Garden Club Has Some Nice Things to Say About My Recent Program at Ebsco

Marion Frost, two time past President and six time Program Chair for the Ipswich Town and Country Garden Club, wrote a very kind note about the Life Story of the Black Swallowtail Butterfly film and program that I gave this past week to her club.

Hi Kim,

How often does something you’ve looked forward to for a long time live up to your expectations? Not often. But last night at Ebsco your presentation, including your film, your comments and your Q&A were just about perfect in my book! I’ll smile as I remember the evening.

I liked having the trailer for the monarch film first. You gave the group something to look forward to. Jesse Cook’s music is an excellent choice, I think. I drum to his music often. I was pleased with the questions and with your answers. It’s obvious you’ve done a lot of research. The way you answered questions made the group comfortable. Very nice! And the film. What can I say. I’d seen clips, but seeing the whole thing was something I won’t forget. I especially liked your reference to other butterflies and your comparison of the swallowtail with the monarch. Liv’s voice was just right for the commentary!

I know from experience that the presenter is the harshest critic of the presentation. I hope you were feeling pleased with your work last night. I’d be happy to repeat the whole evening!

I’m wishing you well with the editing.

All the best to you,

Mim

Thank you Mim. It was my joy! You and your fellow club members were so receptive and interested, it was truly a pleasure to give my presentation to the Ipswich Town and Country Garden Club! Many thanks again for your kind words.

Please see the Programs page of my website for a complete listing of presentations.

bst-banner-final

Berkshire Museum Presents My Butterfly Documentary and Lecture Saturday September 20th

bst_banner_final[PITTSFIELD, MA] – The Berkshire Museum will present a workshop and documentary screening with landscape designer and filmmaker Kim Smith on Saturday, September 20, 2014. Both events are included with regular Museum admission. The slide-illustrated talk, Creating a Bee, Bird, and Butterfly Garden, begins at 10 a.m.and the screening of the film, Life Story of the Black Swallowtail, will follow the talk, beginning at 11:30 a.m. Both programs are part of the Museum’s BeMuse program series.

Creating a Bee, Bird, and Butterfly Garden

Saturday, September 20, 10 a.m.

Following the rhythm of the seasons, Kim Smith presents a stunning slide show and lecture demonstrating how to create a welcoming haven for bees, birds, butterflies, and other wildlife. Native plants and examples of organic and architectural features will be discussed based on their value to particular vertebrates and invertebrates. Pollinator plant list handout included with workshop.

Black Swallowtail osmeterium ©Kim Smith 2011 copy

Life Story of the Black Swallowtail Butterfly

Saturday, September 20, 11:30 a.m. (time approximate; screening follows workshop)

Life Story of the Black Swallowtail Butterfly is a 45-minute narrated film that takes place in a garden and at the sea’s edge. Every stage of the butterfly’s life cycle is experienced in vibrant close-up, from conception to pupation to metamorphosis. The film is suitable for all ages so all can gain a deeper understanding of the symbiotic relationship between wildflowers and pollinators and the vital role they play in our ecosystem. The film was shot in Gloucester, Massachusetts. A discussion and Q & A with Kim Smith, the filmmaker, will follow the screening. Life Story of the Black Swallowtail is the first film in a trilogy about butterflies and will be followed next year by Beauty on the Wing ~ Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly.

Black swallowtail Butterfly finger ©Kim Smith 2011 copy

About Kim Smith

Kim Smith is a filmmaker, designer, author, illustrator, photographer, and naturalist who documents, in a variety of media, the world around her. She is the author and illustrator of Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities! Notes from a Gloucester Garden (David R. Godine, publisher, 2009). Kim’s landscape and interior design firm, Kim Smith Designs, works with clientele to create highly individualized homes and gardens, and she specializes in creating butterfly and songbird habitat gardens in public spaces. Smith is a daily contributor to the stellar community blog Good Morning Gloucester. 

 MAP to BERKSHIRE MUSEUM, thanks to Cat Ryan!

About the Berkshire Museum

Located in downtown Pittsfield, Massachusetts, at 39 South St., the Berkshire Museum, a Smithsonian Affiliate, is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is $13 adult, $6 child; Museum members and children age 3 and under enjoy free admission. Admission to the Butterfly Pavilion is an additional $2 per person. For more information, visit Berkshire Museum or call 413.443.7171.

In association with the Smithsonian since 2013, Berkshire Museum is part of a select group of museums, cultural, educational, and arts organizations that share the Smithsonian’s resources with the nation.

Established by Zenas Crane in 1903, Berkshire Museum integrates art, history, and natural science in a wide range of programs and exhibitions that inspire educational connections between the disciplines. Butterflies is on view throughOctober 26, 2014. Objectify: A Look into the Permanent Collection is currently on view. Little Cinema is open year-round. Feigenbaum Hall of Innovation, Worlds in Miniature, Aquarium, and other exhibits are ongoing.

SEE PREVIOUS POST ABOUT BUTTERFLIES! AT THE BERKSHIRE MUSEUM

My Film at the Lowell Film Festival April 29, at 6:30pm!

BST Banner FINALI hope you can come join me for an evening of screenings and Q and A at the 2014 Lowell Film Series. My film Life Story of the Black Swallowtail is playing, along with Whales of Gold, a film by Lucia Duncan, about the gray whale migration and how to conserve habitat and species in a way that also sustains the livelihoods of local people.

About the film: Life Story of the Black Swallowtail Butterfly is a 45-minute narrated documentary that takes place in a garden and at the sea’s edge. Every stage of the butterfly’s life cycle is experienced in vibrant close-up, from conception to pupation to metamorphosis. The film is for adults and for children so that all can gain a deeper understanding of the symbiotic relationship between wildflowers and pollinators and the vital role they play in our ecosystem. Filmed in Gloucester, Massachusetts.

The location of the screening is at the Lowell National Historical Park Visitor Center, 246 Market Street, Lowell. Click this link to read more about the series.

The 2014 Film Series: Land, Air, and Water is offered in partnership by the Lowell Film Collaborative and the Lowell Parks and Conservation Trust.

Click here to visit the film’s website: Life Story of the Black Swallowtail Butterfly

black-swallowtail-habitat-good-harbor-beach-gloucester-ma-© kim-smith-2011-copyBlack Swallowtail Habitat ~ The Wildflower Meadow at Good Harbor Beach

BomBom Butterflies, Voted People’s Choice Award Rockport Short Film Festival 2013

Birds of New England: Great Egret vs. Great Egret

Great Egret Gloucester - ©Kim Smith 2013Great Egret (Ardea alba)

On a gorgeous dawn this past season I filmed an epic battle between two, possibly three, Great Egrets at the Good Harbor Beach marsh. The battle lasted nearly ten minutes with the defending egret aggressively flying lower and beneath the intruder, preventing it from landing anywhere on the marsh.

Great Egret Gloucester ©Kim Smith 2013Great Egrets have very interesting breeding behavior in that the male selects the nesting site and builds a platform nest of sticks and twigs in a tree, shrub, or on the ground near a marsh,  prior to selecting a mate. Both parents incubate the eggs and feed the chicks, and both male and female vigorously defend the nesting territory. Perhaps that is what I had observed, a male and/or female defending their nesting site.

Great Egret Gloucester Massachusetts ©Kim Smith 2013The Good Harbor Beach victor first surveyed the marsh from his perch on the adjacent cottage and, after determining his foe was defeated, swooped to the tide pool below to feed peaceably alonsgide the Great Blue Heron.

Great Blue Heron Great Egret Gloucester ©Kim Smith 2013Great Blue Heron and Great Egret

How do you tell the difference quickly between a Great Egret and Snowy Egret? If you saw the two species side-by-side it would be easy as the Great Egret is nearly a third as large as the Snowy Egret. I don’t often see them together so the easiest way for me to tell them apart is to remember that the smaller Snowy Egret has brilliant cadmium yellow feet and a black bill. The Great Egret has black feet and a yellow-orange bill.

Snow Egret ©Kim Smith 2013Snowy Egret (Egretta thula)

Good Harbor Beach Marsh ©Kim Smith 2013Good Harbor Beach Marsh Battleground

New Film: Love Letters to Gloucester ~ Summertime 2013

Love Letters to Gloucester ~ Summer 2013 is a ten minute film compiled from butterfly films in progress and scenes from short films created for my community during the summer of 2013.

Special thanks to the Ciaramitaro Family and my Good Morning Gloucester friends and family.

Stay until after all credits roll to see a preview of films yet to come!

Cast In Order of Appearance:

Good Harbor Beach Surfers, Pat Ciaramitaro, Dante Holding, Amanda Mohan, Vanessa Linquata, Greasy Pole Walkers, Nicky Avelis, Sleepy Pallazolla Family, Crazy Hat Ladies Robyn & Amy Clayton, Alicia Cox, Chris DeWolfe, Joey Ciaramitaro, Bex Borden, Toby Pett, Ed Collard, Melissa Cox, Craig Kimberley, Brian M. O’Connor, Captain Heath Ellis, Captain Tom Ellis, Donna Ardizonni, Cathy Kelley, Lillian LoGrasso, Rick Doucette, Barry Mohan, Hannah Kimberley, Ron Gilson, Joan Gilson, BJ Mohan, Eloise Ciaramitaro, Madeline Ciaramitaro, Kathy Ryan, Bob Ryan

Creatures in Order of Appearance:

Great Blue Heron
Good Harbor Beach Harbor Seal
Mama Kildeer Searching for Baby Kildeer
Pair of Whimbrels
Shivering Monarch Butterfly Found at Daybreak
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail
Llama
Donkeys Zack & Abe
Black Swallowtail Butterfly
Luna Moth
Green Darner Dragonfly Migration
Eastern Point Light House Monarch

Links to Summer 2013 Film Projects:

Beauty on the Wing ~ Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly
Life Story of the Black Swallowtail Butterfly
Walking for Loved Ones ~ Sunday Greasy Pole Winner Nicky Avelis
Parade of Sails ~ Schooner Festival 2013
The Good Harbor Beach Seal PSA
Gifts of Gold Red Carpet Interviews
Good Harbor Beach Sunrise ft. the Great Blue Heron
Sunset Sail Aboard the Schooner Thomas E. Lannon
Happy Horribles
A Luna Moth Takes Flight

“The Pollinator Garden” at the Beverly Public Library

On Tuesday evening, October 15th, at 7 pm, I’ll be giving my program, “The Pollinator Garden,” at the Beverly Public Library. Following the rhythm of the seasons, I present a slide show (with over 100 photos!) and lecture demonstrating how to create a welcoming haven for bees, birds, butterflies, and other wildlife. Native plants and examples of organic and architectural features will be discussed based on their value to particular vertebrates and invertebrates. I hope you’ll come join me!

Sunflower and bee  ©Kim Smith 2013Helianthus annuus

SIX Black Swallowtail Pupae on One Fennel Plant!

One pupated last night and now their are a total of six chrysalides–five in the green form and one brown form.

To air on public television I need to lengthen slightly my Black Swallowtail film. My deepest thanks and appreciation to Kate Young and Wolf Hill Garden Center, who have been keeping me supplied in Black Swallowtails in every form, from eggs to chrysalides, for several months now! My film is going to be all the better for it and I am just so deeply appreciative of Kate’s and Wolf Hill’s interest and generosity.

Thanks So Much to Kate and Friends at Wolf Hill!!!

Black Swallowtail Butterfly Male ©Kim Smith 2013Newly Emerged Male Black Swallowtail Butterfly

Thanks to Kate and the team at Wolf Hill for giving me a second Black Swallowtail caterpillar of the season. And, as I was getting ready to discard the parsley plant from the first caterpillar they had found at the garden center earlier in May, I discovered yet a third caterpillar.

Chrysalis #2 eclosed yesterday in the early morning hours. The butterfly in the photo above is newly emerged, so much so that you can see its abdomen is still swollen with fluids as it is expelling a drop. After first drying his wings on the zinnias, he flew off in search of nectar and a mate. I just can’t thank Kate, and everyone at Wolf Hill, who has taken an interest in the caterpillars!

Black Swallowtail Butterfly Zinnia Male ©Kim Smith 2013.Male Black Swallowtail Butterfly and Zinnia

Newly Emerged Black Swallowtail Butterfly

Male Black Swallowtail Butterfly Wedgewood Blue Lilac ©Kim Smith 2013Male Black Swallowtail and Lilac ‘Wedgwood Blue’

This past autumn I wrote about a Black Swallowtail caterpillar that was discovered munching on the parley plants at Wolf Hill Garden Center in Gloucester. The caterpillar had left the parsley plant and wandered around the office at Wolf Hill, where it had pupated, or in other words, turned into a chrysalis, on the razor-thin edge of an envelope. By chance, I met Kate, who works at Wolf Hill, one afternoon at Eastern Point while I was filming Monarchs, where she and her friend were looking at the butterflies through binoculars. She asked if I would be interested in taking care of the chrysalis over the winter. I of course said I would be delighted to do so!

The butterfly chrysalis lived in a terrarium all winter. The terrarium was placed in an unheated entryway. I thought it best for the chrysalis to experience normal winter temperatures rather than live in a heated home where it might be fooled into thinking it was spring. In the early spring we brought the terrarium onto our unheated front porch so that it would be exposed to both the normal outdoor temperature and daylight .

A stunning male Black Swallowtail emerged last week. Earlier that very day I had seen a female Black Swallowtail nectaring at azaleas at a farm in a neighboring town. See the original post on Good Morning Gloucester about Kate and the Wolf Hill caterpillar.

Thank you Kate for the Black Swallowtail Chrysalis!

Black Swallowtail Chrysalis Brown form-1Black Swallowtail Chrysalis ~ Brown Form

 

Order Your Tickets NOW! ~ WORLD PREMIERE of My Film!!!

COMING SOON! WORLD PREMIERE at the

CAPE ANN COMMUNITY CINEMA

FRIDAY JUNE 21, 2013 at 7:30 pm

ADVANCE TICKETS available at Cape Ann Community Cinema

FINAL blog- Seaside graphics  Life Story of the Black Swallowtail Movie poster CACC -1

Come celebrate the premiere of my film, Life Story of the Black Swallowtail Butterfly, on the Summer Solstice, Friday, June 21st at 7:30pm, at the Cape Ann Community Cinema.

As everyone who knows me knows, I have been working on developing this film for nearly two years. It is the first to be completed in the trilogy and I am overjoyed to announce the premier ewill be held at the Cape Ann Community Cinema. Many thanks to Rob Newton for inviting me to have the premiere at his wonderfully unique and super fun movie theatre. I hope everyone will come celebrate this special night with me. I think you will love seeing scenes of our native flora and fauna, filmed all around Gloucester and Cape Ann, on the Big Screen.

The Life Story of the Black Swallowtail Butterfly is a 45-minute narrated film. Every stage of the butterfly’s life cycle is experienced in vibrant close-up, from conception to pupation to metamorphosis. The film is for adults and for children so that all can gain a deeper understanding of the symbiotic relationship between wildflowers and pollinators and the vital role they play in our ecosystem. Filmed in Gloucester.

Note ~ The beautiful music that you hear is my daughter Liv singing and friend Kathleen Adams on the accompanying organ. The song is their improvisation of the Quaker dance song “Simple Gifts.” The soundtrack was recorded at the Annisquam Village Church on the organ built by Gloucester’s own Jeremy Adams. Thank you Liv and Kathleen! 

ADVANCE TICKETS available at Cape Ann Community Cinema

Light refreshments, including wine, and beer will be served. I hope to see you there!

CACC_logo_full

BomBom Butterflies

Over the weekend and next several days, when you have a moment, please watch my newest video. I have submitted it to a video contest sponsored by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis from their debut album The Heist. Macklemore and Ryan Lewis created the beautiful “Same Love” video that I posted previously. The winner will be announced after April 8th.

Thank you Craig Kimberley!

Last week Craig Kimberley spent a morning editing and assisting me with my Black Swallowtail film project.  It’s been great getting to know Craig and I am feeling very blessed that he is interested in working on my project. Because of his knowledge and expertise, I know my film is going to be more beautiful than ever I imagined. Thank you Craig.

Hannah, Craig, Johnny Mac

Hannah and Craig Kimberley and John McElhenny

Good Morning Gloucester contributor Craig moved to Gloucester nearly a year ago. His beautiful wife Hannah followed six months later as she was finishing her doctoral degree in English from Old Dominion University in Virginia. Hannah was just recently hired for her first professional writing job.

Craig is a freelance Director, DP, and Editor. He is currently working on Trev Gowdy’s Monster Fish on the Outdoor Channel as the Director, Editor, and Director of Photography. He is also currently creating a cooking show starring Tony Carbone. This is Craig and Hannah’s first Christmas in Gloucester together. Welcome!

To read more about Craig and see several of the great videos he has shot for Good Morning Gloucester ~

Please Welcome New GMG Contributor Craig Kimberly- St Peter’s Fiesta Parade Video and More

Behind the Scenes Look at What it Takes to Create the “Most Creative” Horribles Float

Video Saturday 2012 Greasy Pole Champion – Nick Avelis Video from Craig Kimberley

Video Sunday 2012 Greasy Pole Champion Stew McGillivray In HD and Slow Motion Video By Our Boy Craig Kimberley

Thank you Kate for the Black Swallowtail Chrysalis!

Last week while filming on Eastern Point I had the pleasure to meet Kate, who works at Wolf Hill. She was with a friend and they were looking for butterflies through binoculars. I had seen Kate often at the garden center, but never stopped to chat. We were talking about all things butterfly when she mentioned that she had a Black Swallowtail caterpillar on a parsley plant back at the nursery office. She offered the caterpillar to me and I gladly accepted. My Black Swallowtail film is nearing completion but there was one missing piece to the story.

Black Swallowtail Chrysalis ~ Green Form

The swallowtail chrysalides that I had on film were all greenish gold. Oftentimes the Black Swallowtail chyrsalis will turn a woody brown, but no matter how hard I looked, I could not find a woody brown chrysalis. Not showing the brown form, I knew, would confuse viewers, especially families who are interested in raising swallowtails.

Kate’s caterpillar pupated while she was away from work for a few days. When she returned she found the chrysalis had wandered from the parsley plant and it had pupated on the razor thin edge of an envelope-as office caterpillars are want to do. Well, you guessed it–the Wolf Hill pupa was the brown form!

Black Swallowtail Chrysalis ~ Brown Form

I know it is said often on the pages of this blog, but Kate’s thoughfullness goes to show once again what a beautiful community is Gloucester–stunning visually, and most special of all, are the beautiful, kind-hearted people who call Gloucester home.  Thank you Kate!

Not finding a brown chrysalis is a relatively escoteric problem, to say the least, but I think you will agree that the two forms of the pupal case are remarkably different in appearance. In this photo you can see where I have taped the envelope behind a tree trunk in order to film. This is how you would find the chrysalis in a more natural setting.

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There are several openings  remaining in my Close-up Photography Workshop at the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University, which will be held this coming Sunday morning at 9:00 am. I would love to see you there! Follow this link to register.

Capturing a sharply in focus close-up of a butterfly, especially one in mid-flight, is one of the greatest challenges of photography and I will be revealing techniques such as these, and more; techniques that have taken many, many hours over many years to perfect. All the photos I have shot in the past year and a half were taken not with a zoom lens, but were shot with a 23mm prime lens. I am typically photographing within a foot’s distance of the butterflies!

Fujifilm X series cameras pose their own set of challenges, especially when shooting close-up. Fujifilm X series owner’s especially may find this class helpful.