Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Eastern Black Swallowtail Butterfly

The Eastern Black Swallowtail Butterfly is quite the interesting butterfly! It was a very hot and humid afternoon yesterday, August 8, 2017. I had observed this butterfly earlier in the day. When it arrived later in the afternoon, for an extended photographic shoot, it was buzzing away at the burgundy Penta blossoms. It appeared to be intoxicated with this plant!

Eastern Black Swallowtail Butterfly
Eastern Black Swallowtail Butterfly - Leesburg, Florida
The behavior of this particular Swallowtail Butterfly was much like the Adult Giant Swallowtail Butterfly I observed about a week ago in the same burgundy Penta plant.

Eastern Black Swallowtail Butterfly
Eastern Black Swallowtail Butterfly - Leesburg, Florida
It is concerning to learn that this beautiful Swallowtail Butterfly is occasionally considered a pest! And, it is also the most common and most studied butterfly!!
Eastern Black Swallowtail Butterfly
Eastern Black Swallowtail Butterfly - Leesburg, Florida
Observing the Eastern Black Swallowtail Butterfly, it appeared to be intoxicated with the Penta. It was buzzing away, flitting its wings, so much so, you'd think it was a hummingbird. I snapped quite a few photos from my kitchen window and then came outside to get closer. With the butterfly hanging around for what seemed like a long time -- definitely 30 minutes or more -- I was sure I'd get a photo that would help me to identify the sex.

Eastern Black Swallowtail Butterfly
Eastern Black Swallowtail Butterfly - Leesburg, Florida
The first photograph on UF's page on the Eastern Black Swallowtail Butterfly shows a female with its wings spread. "The area between the rows of spots on the hind wings of females is powdery iridescent blue. The blue area in males is much less prominent." Checking my first and third photo, that matches up the blue spots to say this butterfly is a female.

Eastern Black Swallowtail Butterfly
Eastern Black Swallowtail Butterfly - Leesburg, Florida
"The under sides of wings of males and females are virtually identical. The front wings have two rows of pale yellow spots. Hind wings have rows of bright orange spots separated by areas of powdery blue."
Eastern Black Swallowtail Butterfly
Eastern Black Swallowtail Butterfly - Leesburg, Florida
You can see a comparison of photos of the male vs female Eastern Black Swallowtail Butterfly on Wikipedia.

This butterfly has the distinction of being named the state butterfly for two states -- Oklahoma and New Jersey! It's curious to note that its caterpillar is named the parsley worm because the caterpillar actually feeds on parsley. I'd say that butterfly grew up having good taste, but it absorbs toxins from host plants which makes it taste bad to predators -- good news, bad news!

It is an interesting fact that males can only mate-copulate twice a day while females will mate more than once to replace sperm supply. It is impressive to note that copulations will last around 45 minutes.


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Check out my other sightings of butterflies in Leesburg and Jacksonville, Florida:

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