Observation of the week: August 28 - September 3, 2021

With only two weeks left to go in this year’s Butterfly Blitz, our seventeenth observation of the week is this female Black Swallowtail seen by @debbiechang. We can tell that it’s a female because of the extensive blue markings on the base of their hindwings. Males have less noticeable blue in this area and have larger yellow spots above.

The Black Swallowtail falls into the very large butterfly category with a wingspan of 6.9-8.4 cm. Both female and male Black Swallowtails have two distinctive orange eye spots on the base of their hindwings. Predators will sometimes mistake these spots for the head and will try to bite it off.

Black Swallowtails lay their eggs on host plants from the carrot family, like Dill, Fennel, Parsley, and Queen Anne’s Lace. Because of their love for these common garden plants, they are often seen in backyards and other urban areas. But Black Swallowtails will also feed on native species in the carrot family – like Sweet Cicely and Water Parsnip.

At first glance, you may not notice Black Swallowtail caterpillars since they look like bird droppings. This camouflages them in their environment and makes them less likely to be eaten. As they grow and moult out of their skins, the caterpillars transform. Their body turns bright green with black stripes dotted with yellow spots.

A fun fact about Black Swallowtails is that they participate in an activity called “puddling.” The male butterflies gather around puddles and take in salts and other nutrients from sand and mud. They later pass on these nutrients to the females during reproduction.

Not only do these butterflies get nutrition from flower nectar, drinking from puddles also provides them with another way to build up their fluids and get their electrolytes. This not only benefits reproduction but also helps them to prepare for long flights. Other species of butterflies, like other swallowtails, admirals, whites and sulphurs are known to puddle too.

Have you seen any butterflies puddling? Let us know!

At the wrap up event on September 18th, we will discuss some other butterfly patterns that we have seen this summer. We will gather safely to submit timed survey datasheets, hear about our 2021 project results, discuss exciting field finds and award prizes for the following categories: most species, rarest find, most observations, best photo, most participation, and the lucky day prize.

Park admission is free for participants.
Register here: https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/butterfly-blitz-wrap-up-tickets-166312030761

Lähettänyt lltimms lltimms, 8. syyskuuta 2021 19:22

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I saw an American Snout puddling at my pool once.

Lähettänyt silaseckhardt 3 kuukautta sitten (Lippu)

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