Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes)

Looking a bit ragged now, Verbena bonariensis has been a hot spot in the garden for weeks. When not occupied by 7 or 8 American Goldfinches swaying gently on it, bees and butterflies are seen enjoying it.

Verbena bonariensis (Tall Verbena) and Artemisia ‘Powis Castle’ (Wormwood)

I can’t seem to get a picture of the goldfinches but it has been fun to track the pollinators around even just after noon on this scorching day. Finding the verbena an irresistible lunch was today’s special visitor, a lovely Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes).

Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes)

Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes)

I did not think to use slow-motion video, but this 10-second clip will give you a sense of the butterfly’s fluttering lifestyle.  (Also try setting the playback speed).

Before seeing this one today, I’ve observed three other Black Swallowtails (one on July 21, 2015 and believe it or not, two exactly a year apart on August 27, 2015 and  August 27, 2016) and this caterpillar on July 20, 2015.

July 20, 2015. Aegopodium podagraria (bishop’s weed) with Eastern Black Swallowtail (Papilo polyxenes) caterpillar

(By the way, it’s too late to tell me I shouldn’t have planted Aegopodium…just one of many garden aggressors.)

Are you observing lots of butterflies this summer?

 

19 thoughts on “Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes)

  1. Kris P

    Your photos and video are splendid, Susie. Sadly, since the swarm of painted ladies we had come up from Mexico in early spring, I’ve seen very few butterflies yet this season. Hopefully, I’ll see more when the Zinnias flower.

    Reply
    1. pbmgarden Post author

      Zinnias are great for attracting butterflies, so that should help. I usually see more butterflies in late summer and early fall, so this has been unusual.

      Reply
  2. Pauline

    Beautiful butterfly, I haven’t seen many varieties over here yet.Our main season for butterflies is still to come, July/August/September, hopefully we will soon be seeing plenty.

    Reply
    1. pbmgarden Post author

      Hope the butterflies find their way up to see you soon Judy. The Bishop’s weed took over a bed many years ago, but I’ve never been able to reclaim it completely. I should have stuck to pots.

      Reply
  3. Christina

    Well done with the lovely capture of the black Swallowtail. There were a lot of butterflies earlier but it seems to hit for them now. In France we saw Two tailed Pashas which was very exciting.

    Reply
  4. P&B

    Great photos of the Black Swallowtail. I find it’s much easier to capture an image of Eastern Tiger Swallowtail than the Black one. I haven’t seen them around this season, but it’s still early for us.

    Reply
    1. pbmgarden Post author

      Thanks Pris. I agree the Eastern Tiger is less frenetic and easier to photograph. The faster beating of the wings on this Black Swallowtail is what alerted me it must be different.

      Reply
  5. bittster

    Your black swallowtail is so perfect it must be one of your own caterpillars all grown up. So nice to see them around so early, they seem a little earlier here as well but are hit or miss depending on the weather.

    Reply
  6. Eliza Waters

    I love seeing butterflies in the garden. My milkweed is at peak bloom and I’ve sadly only seen one ragged Monarch, but many Eastern Yellow Tigers and one Black Swallowtail. The bees have been busy there as well. I’m mystified about where the Fritillaries are, we have tons of violets that are their host plant, but no adults yet.

    Reply
    1. pbmgarden Post author

      Eliza, it’s interesting to read about the mixed sightings in your garden this year. I usually notice the most butterflies in late summer/early fall, so it’s a treat to enjoy them now. Hope your monarchs arrive and the fritillaries as well. Didn’t know about the violets–I should add some.

      Reply

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