Friday, July 24, 2009

Pipevine Swallowtail Nectaring on Common Milkweed

Birding Hocking Hills in Southeastern Ohio
...continued from the Catbird post.
While watching a Gray Catbird on the Creekside Meadows trail in Clear Creek Metro Park, I saw this beautiful butterfly off in the distance. I kept my eye on him hoping he would come in a little closer. He came in a little, but mostly kept his distance, constantly moving from blossom to blossom and seeming wary.

A stunning Pipevine Swallowtail sips nectar from a
Common Milkweed blossom. I've got to plant this native
wildflower in my garden! I saw several species of
butterflies nectaring from its fragrant flowers. I also
saw Ruby-throated Hummingbirds and Hummingbird
Clearwing Moths sipping nectar from it.

To us, the blue and orange against black is extraordinarily beautiful, but to a bird, the color combination says “Look, but don’t eat!” While it's a caterpillar, the Pipevine Swallowtail stores toxins in its body from its pipevine host plant, making him unpalatable to birds. Because of this, birds usually leave him alone. In Ohio, five other butterflies have evolved the same color pattern. By mimicking the color combination of the Pipevine Swallowtail, these other species gain protection from predators.

Common Milkweed is the host plant for Monarchs.
Female Monarchs lay just one egg per plant under
a leaf. Monarch caterpillars ingest and store toxins
from the Common Milkweed plant just as Pipevine
caterpillars do from pipevine plants. Birds soon
learn to leave Monarchs alone too.

Zebra Swallowtails love nectaring on Common Milkweed also. When I was at Strouds Run, a gorgeous Zebra Swallowtail hung around for quite a while, going over each blossom carefully.

29 comments:

Betsy from Tennessee said...

What a beautiful butterfly, Kel. I can understand why you wanted photos of that beauty.

Hope you have a great weekend.
Love you Friend,
Betsy

Kelly said...

Thanks Betsy.....I hope you have a fabulous weekend too. Hugs and love!!

Roy said...

That is one gorgeous butterfly. In Swallowtails we get the Black, the Tiger, and the Spicebush here, but the Pipevine is a stranger. I saw a Red Admiral on the Cliff Walk today, but it wouldn't sit still, and I was in a hurry to get to the surfing spot. Heh, heh!

Kelly said...

...the Pipevine is similar to the Spicebush. At first I thought it was until I studied the guide. I wish he had come closer!! I didn't see him again.

HBFG said...

Wow, beautifull! Learned something again today. Nature is fascinating!
:))

Phil and Mandy said...

That is 1 beautiful butterfly Kelly, puts some of ours to shame. Phil

Matt Latham said...

Superb images Kelly of a fantastic looking butterfly

The Early Birder said...

Hi Kelly. Now that is a flutter with stunning colours.
Have a great weekend. FAB

Sue said...

I had milkweed pop up in my vegetable garden and I let it grow. I get some comments on it from the neighbors, but I love all the attention it gets from the butterflies. Nice photo, Kelly!

Roy said...

Magical colouring on the swallowtail Kelly. Lovely images.

Laure Ferlita said...

Magical! Absolutely magical the way you are able to take something and make it so gorgeous with your camera!

the Baitlady said...

Gorgeous! Beautiful photos of a beautiful butterfly on a beautiful milkweed. Thanks for sharing!

Montanagirl said...

This is so beautiful. You take such amazing photos!

Shellmo said...

That is such a striking butterfly! I wish one would visit me! :-)

Jayne said...

Oh, he's so beautiful Kelly. Milkweed does seem to attract so many butterflies.

Abe Lincoln said...

My red spotted purple must be a cousin to this swallowtail. Nice photography too. If milkweed wasn't so invasive I would try planting it again. I had one devil of a time getting it started growing here about 20 years ago and then suddenly discovered it stick up inside the boxwood bushes. Like grass it spreads by underground rhizomes or mine did. Then it took some effort to get rid of it. I suppose a person could dig holes and sink a drum or barrel in them to keep them in one area. But so many butterflies depend on this one plant which is normally poisoned by farmers in the fields as a weed.

Pick a Peck of Pixels

JKoenig said...

That first picture is stunningly beautiful.

It seemed like when I was a child butterflies were more plentiful. We had so many different kinds. Now when I see them, I feel really blessed. All summer I have only seen about five different kinds in our yard. They are difficult to take pictures of too. Just about the time you get the camera in focus, they move on. You did a great job!(as always)

Thanks for brightening my day.

Cindy said...

Beautiful shots. I love the colors. I'm still trying to get a good photo of a butterfly. I haven't had much luck. Those things just won't sit still.

Kelly, if you have some extra time to spare could you identify another bird for me. I posted it on my blog "A Quiet Place" at http://cindymiller3.blogspot.com. I've only seen them once or twice in the backyard tree and as luck would have it I was only able to get this one shot of it. Any help would be greatly appreciated. ~Cindy

Warren Baker said...

Well that beats anything we have over hear Kelly, what a superb Butterfly!

Cindy said...

Hi Kelly. Thank you for your help. I know you know your birds so I'm very happy with your identification. Thanks again. ~Cindy

Mary said...

Great information as well as the wonderful photos. I didn't know all that about their color. I've never seen a Pipevine Swallowtail..yet.

Tim Rucci said...

Great captures, Kelly! The colors are stunning and your composition is really nice with the clear green background. I saw some of these once when I stopped at an overlook on the highway in WVA, but did not manage to get any crisp images. I find it very difficult to get good photos of butterflies, and I can probably count my keepers on one hand.

Susan Ellis said...

Gorgeous photos...we have milkweed, but haven't seen a pipevine on them...lovely.

Adrienne in Ohio said...

Wonderful photos, Kelly! That's one I haven't seen in person before!

Jenny said...

That is a stunning butterfly Kelly! Looks like it should come from South America! I'm glad it cooperated for you.

Steve B said...

Wonderful post.

Cicero Sings said...

Lovely pictures ... lovely butterfly!

ShySongbird said...

What a beauty, such stunning colours, lovely photos Kelly!

holdingmoments said...

Spectacular looking butterfly Kelly, a real beauty.