Joe-Pyes Bring Big Butterflies

I closed last Wednesday’s post with a picture of a monarch butterfly on joe-pye weed, but that’s not the only butterfly I’ve been seeing around. Seems my little garden attracts quite a few types of butterflies, mostly because of the joe-pye weeds, but also because of some other plants. More on that in upcoming posts.

The camera had been on a tripod while I tried to get close-up shots of various flowers, but there was so much activity I finally gave up for awhile; taking the camera in hand, I started shooting butterflies instead.

This is a female eastern tiger swallowtail (Papilio glaucus), easily identified because nothing else in Maryland looks quite like it, with one exception: the Appalachian tiger swallowtail (Papilio appalachiensis), which is uncommon, only found in the western half of the state, and only flies from late April to early June.

The eastern tiger swallowtail is common and widespread in Maryland, flying in early May and again in August. Many types of trees can host the caterpillars, including wild cherry, sweet bay magnolia, and birch, each of which are growing not far from the joe-pye weeds in my garden.

The adults feed on a variety of flowers, sipping nectar through long proboscises.

The specimen pictured here is a female. The identifying characteristic is the blue spots on the hindwing; males have very little, or zero, blue on them.

Before wrapping up for the day I also took some shots of this dusky beauty. I was so happy, sure that I’d gotten a spicebush swallowtail. After all, there are several spicebushes nearby, so makes sense, right?

Yes, it makes sense, but I was wrong. This is not a spicebush swallowtail. More about that next time.


Bonus picture: cabbage white (Pieris rapae), I think.




Second bonus picture: the day after I finished writing this post, I spotted a male eastern tiger swallowtail. I had the wrong lens on the camera and the darned thing never stayed still; this is the best picture I could get. Note that there’s only a tiny amount of blue and orange spotting on it.

1 thought on “Joe-Pyes Bring Big Butterflies

  1. It seems that everyone is talking about Joe Pye weed! I must try this next year. It is not native here. I would not mind watering it, or growing it in a marshy area. I want to see what is so great about it.

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