Category Archives: Swallowtails

Grow Native!

I love this handy chart that features a number of common butterflies we see in New England, and thought you would, too

Nectar plants are wonderful to attract butterflies to your garden, but if you want butterflies to colonize your garden, you need to plant their caterpillar host (food) plants. We all know Common Milkweed and Marsh Milkweed are the best host plants for Monarchs, and here are a few more suggestions. When you plant, they will come! And you will have the wonderful added benefit of watching their life cycle unfold.

Monarchs are dependent upon milkweeds during every stage of their life cycle. Milkweeds are not only their caterpillar food, it provides nectar to myriad species of pollinators.

CEDAR ROCK GARDENS OPENS TODAY!

You never know what beautiful pollinator you will encounter while shopping at Cedar Rock Gardens! Eastern Tiger Swallowtail and Sunflower, Cedar Rock Gardens

For more information visit Cedar Rock Gardens website here and see post from earlier this week.

CAPE ANN WILDLIFE: A YEAR IN PICTURES 2017

CAPE ANN WILDLIFE: A YEAR IN PICTURES 2017

By Kim Smith

Cape Ann provides welcome habitat for a menagerie of creatures beautiful, from the tiniest winged wonder to our region’s top predator, the Eastern Coyote. Last year I posted a Cape Ann Wildlife Year in Pictures 2016 and I hope you will find the wildlife stories of 2017 equally as beautiful. Click on the image to find the name of each species.

WINTER

Winter: Only partially frozen ponds allowed for dabblers and divers such as Mallards, Mergansers, and Buffleheads to forage at the freshwater. Mr. Swan had his usual entourage of quwackers and daily heads to the other side of the pond to get away for his morning stretches. Sightings of Red-tailed Hawks and other raptors abounded. Although photographed in Newburyport, the owl photos are included, well, just because I like them. An Eastern Screech Owl (red-morph) was seen daily perched above a playground and Barred Owl sightings too were reported throughout the winter. Raptors live on Cape Ann all year round but are much easier to see in winter when the trees are bare of foliage.

The beautiful green eyes of the juvenile Double-crested Cormorants were seen wintering at both Niles Pond and Rockport Harbor. And during a warm February day on a snowless marsh a turkey bromance shindig commenced.

SPRING

 

In early spring, a male and female American Wigeon arrived on the scene making local ponds their home for several weeks. In the right light the male’s electric green feathers at the top of his head shine brightly and both the male and female have baby blue bills.

Meadow and marsh, dune and treetop were graced with the heralding harbingers of spring with photos of a Red-winged Blackbird, a pair of Cedar Waxwings, Northern Mockingbird, Brown Thrasher, Eastern Towhee, Eastern Kingbird, Tree Swallow, and Grackle included here.

The Great Swan Escape story made the news in Boston as Mr. Swan eluded captors for hours. He had re-injured his foot and someone took it upon themselves to call the animal rescuers, which would have surely meant death for our beloved 27-year old swan if he had been wrangled into captivity.

M is clearly for Migration through Massachusetts and the month-long arrivals and departures did not abate. Short-billed Dowitchers, winsome Willets, Yellow Legs, and Ruddy Turnstones are just some of the migrating shorebirds spied on Cape Ann beaches and marshes. The best news in May was the return of the Piping Plovers. Of the five or six that camped at Good Harbor Beach to investigate potential nesting sites, one pair bonded and built their nest mere yards from the nesting pair of last year. Could it be the same pair? The nesting Piping Plover story took up much of the spring and by early summer four little Piping Plover chicks hatched over Fiesta weekend. Hundreds of photos and hours of film footage are in the process of being organized with a children’s book and documentary in progress.

Piping Plover Courtship Dance

Piping Plover Nest

 

SUMMER

 

OctoPop

The survival of one Piping Plover chick was made possible by a wholesale community effort, with volunteers covering all hours of daylight, along with Mayor Sefatia and her team, Ken Whittaker from the conservation office, Chief McCarthy, and animal control officer Diane Corliss all lending a hand.

Sadly, several Northern Gannets came ashore to die on our Cape Ann beaches, struck by the same mysterious and deadly disease that is afflicting Northern Gannets in other regions. During the summer season they are typically at their North American breeding grounds, which are six well-established colonies, three in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Quebec, and three in the North Atlantic, off the coast of Newfoundland.

An orphaned swan was introduced to Niles Pond, much to the dismay of Mr. Swan. Eastern Point residents Skip and Lyn kept watch over the two while they reluctantly became acquainted.

By mid-July many of us were seeing Monarchs in much greater numbers than recent years. Nearly every region within the continental United States experienced a fantastic Painted Lady irruption and butterflies of every stripe and polka dot were seen flitting about our meadows, fields, and gardens.

The tadpoles and froglets of American Bullfrogs and Green Frogs made for good eating for several families of resident otters, who are making their homes in abandoned beaver lodges. Little Blue Herons too, find plentiful frogs at our local ponds.

In early August we see the Tree Swallows begin to mass for their return migration. They find an abundance of fruits and insects in the dunes, headlands, and beaches. The Cedar Waxwings and Ruddy Trunstones were back again observed foraging on their southward journey, along with myriad species of songbird, shorebird, diver, and dabbler.

Tree Swallows Massing

FALL

 

 

The Late Great Monarch migration continued into the fall as we were treated to a wonderfully warm autumn. Waves and waves of Monarchs came ashore and more butterflies arrived on the scene including new batches of Painted Ladies, Clouded Sulphurs and Common Buckeyes (nothing common about these beauties!).

A pair of Northern Pintails called Cape Ann ponds and coves home for nearly a month while we seem to be seeing more and more raptors such as Red-tailed Hawks, Osprey, Bald Eagles, and Peregrine Falcons. Juvenile herons of every species that breeds on Cape Ann lingered long into the fall—Black-crowned Night Herons, Yellow-crowned Herons, Great Blue Herons, Snowy Egrets, Great Egrets, and Green Herons.

Just as Mr. Swan and the Young Swan appeared to be warming to each other, the Young Swan, who has yet to learn to fly, became trapped in the ice at Niles Pond. He was rescued by caretakers Lyn and Dan and is now spending the winter at a cozy sanctuary built by Lyn and friends.

Heart-wings Monarch

Thank you to all our readers for your kind comments of appreciation throughout the year for the beautiful wild creatures with which we share this gorgeous peninsula called Cape Ann. If you’d like to read more about a particular animal, type the name of the animal in the search box and the original post should come up

With its expansive marshes and dunes, bodies of fresh clear water, saltwater coves and inlets, and geographic location within the Atlantic Flyway, 2017 has been a banner year for Cape Ann’s wild and wonderful creatures. I can’t wait to see what awaits in 2018!

Snowy Owl “Hedwig” January 2018 Backshore Gloucester

Kim Smith Lecture Chelmsford Public Library

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!

Pipevine Swallowtail Eggs ©Kim Smith 2012Pipevine Swallowtail Eggs, East Gloucester

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

On Behalf of Pathways for Children and Myself ~ Thank You to the Beautiful Manchester Garden Club Ladies!!!

Manchester Garden Club at Pathways ©Kim Smith 2014After months of planning and coordinating, this week we installed the new butterfly garden at Pathways for Children. We’ll be bringing you more updates from the garden but wanted to first thank our super hard-working, fabulous and fun, beautiful team of volunteers from the Manchester Garden Club. We planted the garden in record time due to their can-do-attitudes.  Thank You Ladies–you were simply the BEST!!!

And, success! As Bernie Romanowski, the facilities director, and I were tidying up, not one, but two butterflies stopped by to investigate the new garden, a Cabbage White and a Canadian Tiger Swallowtail. I wished our volunteers had seen that! Plant and they will come!

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

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

Gloucester HarborWalk Tulip Tree Image to Travel Around the World

Recently my friend Joey (the creator of Good Morning Gloucester, the blog for which I am a daily contributor) was contacted by The Field Museum in Chicago about a GMG post from May 2012. They were interested in acquiring an image of mine from a post about our beautiful HarborWalk Tulip Trees, planted at St. Peter’s Square.

Tulip Tree Gloucester HarborWalk ©Kim Smith 2012 copyTulip Tree at the Gloucester HarborWalk Butterfly Garden

The Field Museum is currently developing an engaging new scientific exhibition on the topic of Biomechanics that will debut in the spring of 2014.  Led by the curatorial efforts of Field Museum Curator of Zoology, Dr. Mark Westneat, the exhibition will explore the science of looking at living things as machines built by nature and evolution.  One of the topics presented includes wind and how the leaves of a tree change in the wind.

I selected Tulip Trees for the gardens not only because they have a lovely ornamental bi-color effect when the leaves catch the wind, but primarily because they have a storied connection to Gloucester history. Liriodendron tulipifera was one of the primary woods used for tall ship’s masts, and because much of the wood from which the CB Fisk organs are built is Tulip Poplar (thank you to Greg Bover for the information about the Fisk connection to tulip poplar!). Tulip Trees are also a caterpillar food plant for the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterfly!

See post about Tulip Trees ~ Welcome Tulip Trees!

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

Black Swallowtail Chrysalis from Wolf Hill

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

 

Come Visit My Film’s New Website!

Dear Friends,

When you have a spare minute, I hope you”ll take a moment to look at the new website for my forthcoming film Life Story of the Black Swallowtail Butterfly. I had lots of fun creating the website and it was great to be able to assemble and house all the information in one place, including photos, upcoming events, the trailer, and a share page. Please let me what you think. THANK YOU! 

Life Story of the Black Swallowtail Butterfly

*

To all who have expressed interest in attending the premier of Life Story of the Black Swallowtail Butterfly, the advance tickets are selling rapidly and the event is nearly sold out.  Please purchase tickets while still available. Link to Advance Ticket sales at Cape Ann Community Cinema.

Winners Announced 2013 Rockport Short Film Festival People’s Choice Awards

Rockport Art Festivals Blog ~

Rockport Festivals is pleased to announce that two films received the inaugural Motif 1 Short Film Fest People’s Choice award(s):

Homemade Parade by Emile Doucette BomBom Butterflies by Kim Smith

 

RFfilmfestwinnerlogo

 

Wow! What a great first year for the first Motif 1 Short Film Fest! We had some great submissions, ranging on topics from the launch of an Essex-built schooner to the legend of the Gloucester Sea Serpent. The following eight short films were chosen for the first Motif 1 Short Film Fest:

Launch Day of the Schooner Ardelle
by Len Burgess
What do You Love About Cape Ann?
by Mike Kelly
BomBom Butterflies
by Kim Smith
Gloucester Sea Serpent
by Doctor Colonel Gonzo
No More Gloomy Sundays
by Robert Newton
New England Blood
by Dylan/Ladds
Homemade Parade
by Emile Doucette
Thacher Island Nature Reserve Sunrise
 

by Ron Rismen

Two screenings were held at the annual Motif No.1 Festival in Rockport, one on Friday, May 17th and another on Saturday, May 18th, with Twin Lights soda courtesy of Rockport’s own Thomas Wilson Beverage Co. at both screenings. Viewers were asked to vote for their favorite film (if they felt so inclined — voting was entirely optional). Across the ballots all the films received great feedback, with one voter checking off every single option with the comment that each one was a favorite. But in the end, two films emerged as the front runners with both receiving the same number of votes.

Read more about the event at Rockport Art Festivals

Lecture Tonight ~ The Pollinator Garden

Tired of the monochromatic New England landscape? Tonight, Thursday, I am giving my lecture program The Pollinator Garden from 7 to 9 at the Andover Public Library Memorial Hall. The public is welcome.

Pink flowering dowood Cornus florida rubra

North American Native Pink-flowering Dogwood ~ Cornus florida rubra

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.

~

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.

Giant Swallowtail Butterfly Alert!!!

Last week the Giant Swallowtail butterfly visited our garden for a brief moment. I ran indoors to get my camera but it had departed by the time I returned. This morning my my friend John, who lives across from Folly Cove, emailed to say he too has spotted a Giant Swallowtail. John and I correspond regularly about butterfly sightings–I love to hear about what he is seeing on the other side of the island– and this is the first time both he and I have observed Giant Swallowtails in our gardens.

Giant Swallowtail Butterfly (Papilio cresphontes) Photo Courtesy Marti Warren

One of my readers, Marti Warren, wrote in on Monday that she spotted a Giant Swallowtail Butterfly last week in her garden in Amherst, New Hampshire. 

From my favorite butterfly book, Butterflies of the East Coast by Cech and Tudor, “Although they are not regular migrants, Giant Swallowtails have appeared with some consistency as vagrants in the North, and occasionally form colonies.”
On the range map provided in the above book, the northern border of Massachusetts is at the end of the Giant Swallowtails range so I think it is fairly unusual to see one in central New Hampshire.
 Male Black Swallowtail Butterfly (Papilo polyxenes)

Three easy ways to know whether you are seeing the more common male Black Swallowtail or the Giant Swallowtail.

1) The wingspan of the male Black Swallowtail is approximately 3.2 inches; the Giant Swallowtail’s wingspan nearly five inches.

2) Both the male and female Giant Swallowtails have a band of yellow spots that converge near the apex.

3) Additionally, the only blue irredescence on the Giant Swallowtail is a semi-circular “eyebrow” over the orange and black eyespots.

Let me know if you think you have seen a Giant Swallowtail in your garden recently. If you have a photo, even better!

Dutchman’s Pipevine Photo from 1915

Look what Fred Bodin from Bodin Historic Photo shared!

Julia Lane, later Julia Wheeler, posed for Alice M. Curtis on August 12th, 1915, in Gloucester.

Fred read my post about Dutchman’s Pipevine and Pipevine Swallowtail Butterflies that originally appeared on Good Morning Gloucester, titled Plant, and They Will Come!  I mentioned in that post that the Dutchman’s Pipevine had it’s heyday in gardens in the previous two centuries. Pipevine was planted  to climb porches and arbors in pre-airconditioning days, providing  shade and cooling the rooms within. The Pipevine Swallowtail Butterfly is rarely seen in our region today because the Dutchman’s Pipevine is rarely planted.

Thank you Fred for taking the time to find this delightful vintage photo showing the Dutchman’s Pipevine growing on the porch in the background!

Dutchman’s Pipevine is the host plant for the Pipevine Swallowtail Butterfly and makes a wonderful addition to the garden. Back when it was in vogue (and practical) to plant Dutchman’s Pipevine, Pipevine Swallowtail Butterflies were a regular occurrence in the northeast.

 4-day old Pipevine Swallowtail caterpillars, recently molted. Notice their spiny discarded skins.

Note: the flower in the second photo of the Dutchman’s Pipevine is a Rose of Sharon, not the flower of the vine.

Plant! and They Will Come

Nearly five years ago in late September 2007, I photographed a male Pipevine Swallowtail Butterfly (Battus philenor) nectaring in my garden. I found mesmerizing its dark beauty, with black wings punctuated by brilliant orange spots and shimmering iridescence. The wings flashed electric blue in the fading late day sunlight and I became completely captivated!

Although the Pipevine Swallowtail is not rare in its southern range, this exotic looking butterfly is an unusual occurrence in the northeast, and even more rarely found on the eastern outer reaches of Cape Ann. Mine was a stray, carried in on a southerly breeze. I imagined that if a male can drift into our garden, so can a female. And if a visiting female found in my garden her caterpillar food plant, she would deposit her eggs. The following spring we planted the Dutchman’s Pipevine (Aristolochia macrophylla). Four years later, and our pipevine has grown well. With emerald green enormous heart-shaped leaves, she is quite a showstopper clambering over the back fence. The plant is named for its flower, which resembles a Dutchman’s pipe, although when ours flowers, the blooms are so small, so few, and so lost in the foliage, I barely know when it is in bloom. Our pipevine took several years to become established, but once firmly rooted, it grew vigorously, but not invasively. At the end of the growing season, or the beginning of the next, I cut the vine hard, down to the ground. Dutchman’s Pipevine grows in full sun and partial shade and is hardy in zones 4 to 8.

Aristolochia macrophylla had its glory days in gardens during the two previous centuries, prior to the invention of air conditioning. It was planted to cover porches and treillage; cooling and shading the rooms within. When looking through old photos you can easily spot the porches and arbors that are embowered with pipevine because of the distinctive heart-shaped foliage. I imagine Fred Bodin may even have a few pictures of pipevine shrouded porches in his treasure trove of vintage photographs.

 Pipevine Swallowtail Egg Clutch

While doing chores in our backyard, about a week ago Saturday, I noticed the rapid movements of a dark butterfly investigating the pipevine. I immediately paused because say, for example, if it was the more common Eastern Black Swallowtail, which deposits eggs only on members of the carrot family, it would not show the least bit of interest in the pipevine. Upon close investigation, it was a Pipevine Swallowtail and, without doubt, it was a she! After first zooming in and out of the house to grab my camera, I observed her as she fluttered from tendril to tendril. She deliberately chose the tenderest leaves, pausing briefly several times to curl her abdomen to the underside to deposit her eggs. After she departed I ran in the house to tell anyone who would listen of the Great News. In our household my butterfly news is pretty much the family joke, although my husband kindly offered to get the tallest ladder from the basement. He held tight while I climbed to the top rung in search of eggs. I struck gold! Unlike the female Monarch and Eastern Black Swallowtail butterflies, which deposit eggs singularly, the Pipevine Swallowtail oviposits eggs in clusters. I counted somewhere between 25-30 eggs (very approximately) in the clutch we cut from the plant. I hope we have enough pipevine to feed this many hungry Pipevine Swallowtail caterpillars!

Pipevine Swallowtail Caterpillars Several Hours New

One Day New Pipevine Swallowtail Caterpillars

Range Map of Pipevine Swallowtail (Battus philenor)

 ~ Map courtesy NABA

Butterfly Garden Tour at Willowdale Estate!

Reminder to save the date ~ A week from Tuesday, on the evening of  June 12th, I am giving a tour of the butterfly gardens at Willowdale Estate.  We will be showing my short film about the gardens at Willowdale and Briar’s delicious refreshments will be served. I am very excited to share the gardens and show how to translate this information to your own garden. I hope you can join us for what promises to be a lovely evening!

R.S.V.P. to Info@WillowdaleEstate.com.

 

Life Story of the Black Swallowtail Trailer

Dear Friends,

You’ve heard me talking about my butterfly documentary (for Months now!). I began filming the black swallowtails last July and am only now close to premiering my film.  I am so excited to share this project with you and hope you enjoy the trailer.

My daughter Liv and our dear friend Kathleen Adams collaborated on a beautiful rendition of “Simple Gifts.” The music in the background is an improv interlude from their recording session.

Coming soon: Documentary about the Life Story of the Black Swallowtail Butterfly, from egg, to caterpillar, to chryrsalis, to adult. Filmed in a garden and along the seashore, Gloucester, Massachusetts. Featuring the black swallowtail butterfly, wildflowers, pollinators, the sun, the garden, and more.

Looking for a Black Swallowtail Chrysalis

I am looking for a Black Swallowtail chrysalis to film. The last generation of the previous summer’s black swallowtail caterpillars spends the winter in their chrysalis form. Often times the winter chrysalis is a woody brown, not green. The late season caterpillar may pupate under the eaves of a house, along a porch or deck rail, or on a fence. I am hoping that amongst all my many readers, someone has a brown Black Swallowtail chrysalis in their garden.

Black Swallowtail chrysalis, green form

There are several distributors from where butterfly and moth chrysalis may be purchased, but I would prefer to film a Cape Ann specimen in its natural habitat (or at least a Black Swallowtail chyrsalis from the New England area). Please let me know if you think you have the brown form of the Black Swallowtail chrysalis. THANK YOU!!!

Black Swallowtail chrysalis, brown form–image courtesy Google image search