Tag Archives: Black Swallowtail Butterfly

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

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

Kim Smith Pollinator Program at Cox Reservation Tonight at 6pm

36. Zinnia Black Swallowtail Butterfly -1 ©Kim Smith 2013 copy

I hope to see you there!

The event is free.

RSVP to alice@ecga.org.

For more information: Planting an Essex County Pollinator Garden

Monarchs Gloucester MA ©Kim Smith 2012 -1269 copy

 

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

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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.