Sunday, September 23, 2007

More Butterflies and Stuff

It turns out that these black swallowtail butterflies may or may not have been the Spicebush Swallowtails I thought they were. I have identified them as the Pipevine Swallowtail, one of four species that can look incredibly similar. You can compare them at the link I provided. The butterflies are trying to take after the Asters in numbers and likeness.

The Pipevine Swallowtail's host plant is the Aristolochia vine which tries to mimic Kudzu in its behavior. We have that. The Spicebush butterfly's host is Spicebush of course, Lindera benzoin and Sassafras albidum. We have that. There is a black female form of the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail. It's host plants are Tulip Poplar, Liriodendron tulipifera and Black Cherry, Prunus serotina. We got tons of that. I very well could have been seeing at least these three species.

We are having long stretches between rains and the butterflies were liking the moisture from my heavy duty mortar mixing.

And then there is this gorgeous creature I spotted this morning while having coffee and cigarettes for breakfast. It was living under one of the chairs on the deck and had spun a web beneath it. I tried to coax it out with a free meal, but his web was lacking in good sticking abilities and I gave up flinging other bugs into the web for it to eat. So this evening I went hunting and flushed him out.

Into the Eyes of the Spider.

Passing through the meadow, I spotted this red leaf perfectly perched on top of this green leaf. This should help lower your heart rate from the previous pictures.


chuck b. said...

Interesting-- Battus philenor lives in California too, where it's caterpillar feeds on Aristolochia californica. (A. californica is one of California's very few native vines.) But I've never seen anything feeding on my spicebush, which is Calycanthus, not Sassafras.

I put some A. californica in my garden behind the elderberry a few months ago. Apparently, the fine takes three years to get established after transplanting.

chuck b. said...

its caterpillar.

Anonymous said...

In our area (Mid Atlantic) the shrub we call spicebush is Lindera benzoin - or at least that's the spicebush associated with the butterfly. Another argument for Latin names - although they keep changing those too!
Christopher, great post , except that spider is some ugly!! Shudder!

Christopher C. NC said...

The Calycanthus here is called Sweetshrub or Carolina Allspice. The whole sweet, spice, bush, shrub common name thing is confusing. This is a definate time when binomial names are needed. I thought the Lindera benzoin here at first might be the Calycanthus until I noticed the alternate leaves.

NC's pre-eminent horticulturist JC Raulston did some breeding with the native and Chinese? Calycanthus and several new improved Calycanthus named after him are being released to the trade. A lot of his "groupies" grad students were at the "Speaking of Gardening" seminar.

Chuck I think once your garden is discovered and the word gets out you will have plenty of Butterflies.

That spider was pretty Bev! Orange and yellow with striped legs and a big round abdomen.

Anonymous said...

Another way to tell the Lindera is to crush a leaf and smell it; it has a spicy smell. I often use this in my woods since it seems like a lot of plants look like Lindera!

Christopher, although I respect all living things and was a biology major, nothing will convince me to like spiders! It's a primeval reaction or something associated with (at least my) 2 X chromosomes. (:

Unknown said...

He is seriously one sexy spider. Bev, it can't be the chromosome... unless my combo is defective. ;)