Monday, July 11, 2011

Swallowtail News and Swallowtail History

Well once again I missed our Black Swallowtail emerging. But it was close!

Saturday morning I looked out to see the newly hatched beast, wings already dried, hanging from the papery husk of the pupa. I grabbed the camera to at least get that image, went outside and was reminded of one of the problems of taking pictures in the summer in Virginia. The inside of the house, and so the camera, is about 72 degrees. The backyard is close on 90 degrees and the humidity akin to a sauna. So the lens steamed up in an instant and by the time I had it cleared the subject had flown. Flown to the table on the deck at first where I managed one shot, and then flown entirely. Even this one shot is blurry thanks to condensation
So there it is, perfect but just not showing to best effect.
Later the same day another female was there laying again but the schedule dictates that we won't be here to try again with the latest group. By the time we reach this point again  Clan Banished will be in the far north on vacation.

So I'm going to fall back on the sequence from August 2008. This is what we were after again this year but I suspect it is not to be.

And with a single bound (s)he was free
Drying those wet and crinkly wings. Note the green colour of the wing veins, the blood is really pumping.

  And the whole sequence capped by a perch on Mrs B's finger.

Of course we knew there were many more around the yard this weekend all ready to emerge. We just hadn't tracked them down when they dispersed. So I was pleased to see this perfect newly hatched specimen come fluttering out of the garden to greet me at the ponds edge. This one is, I'm sure, 'one of ours'.

Sundays specimen. Look at the 'struts' on those wings. Fantastic engineering!

So now we can forget about Papilio polyxenes for the rest of the summer. Lets find something new to occupy our time. 

Hmmm now here one to watch through to the fall. A juvenile Argiope aurantia, the Yellow and Black Orb Weaver. What is very inadequately called the 'garden spider'. A quarter of an inch or so now this one is going to grow to be big and beautiful and hopefully we can follow that growth.


  1. Crazy web. What drugs does that spider take? Your butterfly closeups are fantastic

  2. That little web-within-a-web is there for camouflage. Right now its small and pretty defenseless. It works too, it certainly makes it difficult to get a good pic as the camera is struggling to decide what is web and what is spider. Once its full size the web decoration changes. Your an Aussie (?) so you'll know the very similar St Andrews Cross spider I think. Its the same genus but a different species. And one of the few things in Oz that wont actually kill you.