Pipevine swallowtail butterfly

I found butterfly eggs on my native pipevine (Aristolochia tomentosa) and brought them inside. I’ve enjoyed watching the caterpillars hatch, grow, and make chrysalises. This past weekend, six weeks later, the butterflies emerged and are now flying in and out of the backyard.

pipevine swallowtail (Battus philenor) on purple coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea)

Beautiful pipevine swallowtail butterfly (Battus philenor) on native purple coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea) – what a delight!

pipevine swallowtail butterfly (Battus philenor) on Kentucky native Lady Frn (Athryium felix-femina)

Here’s a different view of the the same butterfly on native Lady Fern (Athrium felix-femina). In the right light the iridescent blue is breathtaking.

A different backyard visitor

We had the privilege of  keeping our neighbors’ puppy, Reesie, over the weekend. She is an eight-week-old puggle, a cross between a pug and a beagle.

Between daytime naps, Reesie explored the backyard and enjoyed chewing on leaves, bark and pine cones. She also tolerated being held, petted, and photographed. It was a special treat to have our daughter, Janet, in town to share the fun.

This is a bit of a switch from my usual native plants or butterfly blog posts, but Reesie was the highlight of the backyard this weekend. She was a delightful, entertaining house guest.

Indian Pink

Indian Pink (Spigelia marilandica) has become one of my favorite  native Kentucky wildflowers. I added it to my shade garden last summer. The bright red, yellow-tipped blooms in late May and early June are quite dramatic.

close-up photo of Indian Pink (Spigelia marilandica)

And the attractive, dark green foliage will add texture to the shade garden throughout the summer.

photograph of Indian Pink plant in flower

Indian Pink is a beautiful plant that does well in dry shade, is about 18″ tall, and is not invasive. It definitely meets my criteria for a favorite native wildflower.

Mourning Cloak butterfly

It was a delightful surprise last week to discover two Mourning cloak butterflies (Nymphalis antiopa) feeding on my common milkweed blossoms. I was happy they stayed long enough for me to get my camera.

mourning cloak butterfly feeding on milkweed - wings closed

One soon flew away, but the other allowed me to get good views of the under and upper sides of its wings. I can see how the upper side could resemble a traditional cloak that was worn when one was “in mourning,” hence the name.

mourning cloak butterfly feeding on milkweed - wings spread

I find it interesting that while most adult butterflies live two to three weeks, Mourning cloaks live for about ten months. They emerge in summer, overwinter in woodpiles or under bark, then mate and lay eggs in early spring. Since their wings were in such good condition, I’m guessing my visitors were born this year.

According to what I read, Mourning cloaks are common though not abundant throughout North America. I have seen them twice before – once in Glacier National Park and once in Tennessee. I’m glad to add them to my list of backyard butterflies.

Black swallowtail butterfly

As I passed the butterfly cage on Saturday, I happened to notice a small crack in the chrysalis. I quickly grabbed the camera, hoping to catch what I knew was about to happen.

new black swallowtail butterfly just emerged from chrysalis

In less than a minute, the black swallowtail butterfly had emerged. The wings were small and crumpled, and the abdomen was very large.

black swallowtail butterfly underwings

The butterfly gradually pumped fluid from its abdomen into its wings. Within five minutes it looked more normal, however the wings were still too soft for it to fly. It hung upside down while the wings hardened, and within a couple of hours it began to open and close them.

black swallowtail butterfly top wings

The yellow of the top wings let me know this was a male. Female’s wings have more blue, as in the photograph on my previous swallowtail blog post.

When I took it outside, the butterfly quickly flew away and was soon out of sight.

I’m amazed to think that thirty-two days ago a tiny caterpillar emerged from an egg. That caterpillar quickly grew, made a chrysalis, and this beautiful butterfly emerged. I’m grateful to once again have witnessed this transformation.