Monday, September 23, 2013

Giant Butterflies On The Farm

I was working around the farm when I saw two extra large butterflies flitting about my Tall Garden Phlox. I walked over to take a look:

They were indeed very big, the biggest butterflies I've ever seen. They were black and yellow and resembled Swallowtails, but not quite. They had oddly green legs:

The two of them didn't seem afraid of me and appeared to be traveling as a pair. I kept snapping photos, hoping that some would turn out well enough to be used to identify them:

Their wings were black with yellow spots on the top and mostly yellow on the bottom, with stained glass spots of brighter colors:

I searched the internet and got a suspected ID on their species, but there were no recorded sightings of that species in St. Lawrence County. So I submitted my guess and some photos to Butterflies Of North America. Within an hour, I had the species confirmed and they had been added to the resident species of St. Lawrence County. They were the Giant Swallowtail, Papilio Cresphontes:

I watched the pair for quite awhile and at one point they began interacting in midair. Whether that was a mating ritual or a fight, I will probably never know:

These last several photos show both the tops and bottoms of their wings as they fed on the phlox:

Their "tails" were not at all pronounced, but that, apparently is normal for the species:

They certainly were big and beautiful:

You can see some of the stained glass color patches in this photo:

A good look at both the top and bottom of the wings:

And one last photo. It always pays to stay alert and pay attention to one's natural surroundings. The natural world is one of great beauty and wonder. All we have to do is be mindful. I have to tell myself that frequently during the day as my attention tends to wander:

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