Monday, March 29, 2010

Beautiful Beneficial Butterlies

I have not identified this little guy, but he sure is beautiful, he blended with the leaves so well, if I had not seen him light, I would have missed him completely

The following photos are of a male and female Spicebush Swallotail, to tell there are two in each picture, you must click on the photo to enlarge.

As we sat in the swing watching the dogs, admiring our jungle and pool, the female floated slowly over the pool. Out of the blue sky came the male. they danced and floated, dropping almost to touch the pool water, high up and almost to the trees, around and around they danced.

We watched as they lit together on the hisbicus bush and my camera invaded their privacy.

Googling found these interesting facts.
In order to find females, males patrol flyways on hilltops or host plant sites. When patrolling males meet, they generally fly in opposite directions. 

When a female appears, a male flies towards her and performs a brief courtship ritual, lasting less than a minute (they danced for 5 minutes as we watched). If the female is receptive to the courtship, copulation occurs, often lasting over an hour. That would be why I captured these photos, they were on the bush for at least an hour.

Spicebush swallowtails lay their eggs on the undersides of leaves. Larvae hatch and initially resemble bird droppings, but come to mimic a snake, complete with eyespots, in later instars. These larvae form pupae which are green (summer) or brown (fall) and metamorphose into butterflies

this is the female after the male flew away.Females search out host plants by visual and chemical cues, then land on a plant and drum the leaf with their forelegs to "taste" it, and confirm it as a host plant.

These lovely creatures only live 2 days to 2 weeks, but their lives are important to us.
Adults are generic pollinators for many flowers, inadvertently pollinating while feeding on nectar. Since spicebush swallowtails are generic pollinators, they are also beneficial to crops.

9 comments:

CambridgeLady said...

They posed so beautifully for you and were unperturbed by onlookers ;o) Lovely pictures!

Catherine said...

Beautiful pictures. I like all your research/stories - I learn a lot from your blogs!

George said...

Your pictures are absolutely wonderful and they make a great photo sequence. Thanks, too, for all the fascinating information.

Snapper II said...

Beautiful pictures Sandra,
and great lesson comentary.
Congratulations on the awards. You go girl!!!!!!

Sunny said...

Your pictures are terrific and great information too.
Sunny :)

Krista said...

Beautiful *and* interesting. That top one is gorgeous. Its wings look like velvet!`

Ginny said...

A sad ending to an interesting story. What a great find to capture with your camera! As in the human world too much, the male did his thing, then flew off to leave the female on the branch by herself. Actually, that last picture is probably my favorite, because of the way the light is shining right through her wings. Almost translucent.

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Talk about being in the right place at the right time. You captured nature in the making!!!! I'm sure those butterflies wouldn't appreciate us invading their intimate moments ---but I enjoyed it SO much.

The pictures were great and the info even better. Thanks Sandra SO much.
Hugs,
Betsy

SquirrelQueen said...

Beautiful photos Sandra, you captured a great piece of nature. I'm looking forward to summer when our butterflies will appear.I always enjoy reading the information on your posts, thanks for sharing.