Wow! We’re at the 25th instance of this weekly feature and we’re not out of things that fill me with wonder and make me think that they are worth for inclusion in Wedensday Wonderment.
Before I continue, a heartfelt thanks to all the wonderful readers who have graced my blog with their time and attention! I really appreciate it.
Today’s bit of wonderment comes from an encounter that I had a number of years ago with this beauty…
This image comes form a trip to a butterfly garden here in Massachusetts about three years ago. The Butterfly Place, as it’s named, is a wonderful place, where butterflies are bred and studied. They have some amazing specimens, but this Giant Swallowtail really stood out for me, both in color and the details of this butterfly’s structure.
The Giant Swallowtail
The giant swallowtail (Papilio cresphontes) is a swallowtail butterfly common in various parts of North America and marginally into South America (Colombia and Venezuela only). In the United States and Canada it is mainly found in the south and east. With a wingspan of about 10–16 cm (3.9–6.3 in), it is the largest butterfly in Canada and the United States
The body and wings are dark brown to black with yellow bands. There is a yellow “eye” in each wing tail. The abdomen has bands of yellow along with the previously mentioned brown. Adults are quite similar to the adults of another Papilio species, P. thoas.
The mature caterpillar resembles bird droppings to deter predators, and if that doesn’t work they use their orange osmeteria. These are ‘horns’ which they can display and then retract. The coloration is dingy brown and or olive with white patches and small patches of purple. Citrus fruit farmers often call the caterpillars orange dogs or orange puppies because of the devastation they can cause to their crops.
Range and Habitat
In the United States, P. cresphontes is mostly seen in deciduous forest and citrus orchards where they are considered a major pest. They fly between May and August where there are 2 broods in the North and 3 in the south. They can range from southern California, where they have been seen from March to December, reaching peak abundance in late summer/early fall), Arizona as deep south as Mexico, north into southeastern Canada. Outside USA and Canada they are found in Mexico, Central America, Colombia, Jamaica, and Cuba.
This image was captured with a Canon EOS 5D Mk II using an EF 24-105mm f/4L lens. Exposure settings were at 1/80 second at f/5.6 and 640 ISO.