Monday, September 5, 2011

The colors of summer...

...one of our most graceful and beautiful summer butterflies, the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, will continue to fly in our town for a little longer this year spreading her summer colors and tricking me into thinking the warm, sunny days of summer will never end, but today is Labor Day, the unofficial end of summer, and by the end of September, our pretty yellow and black butterfly will have vanished from sight, taking summer and all its colors along with her...

Female Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)

...with bright yellow wings the same color as the flower she's nectaring from, this female Eastern Tiger Swallowtail is a picture of summer. I'll miss her this winter when all is grey...

Male and female Eastern Tiger Swallowtails have yellow wings with black tiger stripes. They also have blue and orange scales on their wings, but females have significantly more blue scaling (as shown above) than males who have only four small blue circles on their hindwing ("Butterflies of Ohio," by Jaret C. Daniels). Females also have a dimorphic dark form..

Dark-form females are mostly black with markings that mimic toxic and foul-tasting Pipevine Swallowtails. Mimicry provides protection from predators.

The blue scaling on dark-form females is prominent...

...and you can often see a "tiger stripe" showing through the black.

The abdomen on dark-form female Eastern Tiger Swallowtails is solid black on top with small yellow and black stripes underneath. This plain abdomen is an easy way to distinguish female dark-form Tiger Swallowtails from Pipevine Swallowtails (the butterfly they are mimicking), because the Pipevines have a blue abdomen with spots (click here for an earlier post on a Pipevine Swallowtail to see its abdomen and read about its toxicity).

The abdomen on yellow females and males is yellow with black stripes.

Click here for an earlier post on Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterflies with information on butterfly wings and scales. I photographed these little ladies on 7/16/10 at Shawnee State Park in eastern Ohio.

Have a Happy Labor Day!

22 comments:

Pierre BOYER said...

Marvelous butterflies...

Pierre
http://pierre-boyer.blogspot.com/

Elaine said...

Exquisite photos! We have the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail here too, but it's been a while since I've seen one, or any butterflies for that matter. We are definitely feeling the touch of fall.

Sue said...

Late summer is the best-I love when the butterflies come. You caught some beautiful images.

Marco Alpha said...

Hello Kelly,
Wondeful shots!! Amazing the yellow colors of these butterflies. Very nice between these beautiful flowers.

Greetings, Marco

Roy said...

Nice shots, Kelly! I've seen a few Tiger Swallowtails here, but mostly we have the Black Swallowtails.

TexWisGirl said...

gorgeous macros! love it when you capture the 'furriness' of their wings. so beautiful.

Janice K said...

Have a great weekend, Kelly. Your pictures are so awesome. I have seen a lot more of them this summer, but usually flying high and too far away for my camera. I enjoy seeing them so close up.

Lois Evensen said...

Incredible images. Just beautiful.

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Gorgeous set of photos, Kelly... Love the colors.. The butterflies are beautiful...

Happy Labor Day to you.
Hugs,
Betsy

OLDCROWS3 said...

LOVE LOVE LOVE THIS POST OF THE BUTTERFLIES.

GRANNY FROM FLORIDA

Montanagirl said...

Excellent Butterfly photos (as always!). Have a wonderful Labor Day.

grammie g said...

HI Kelly...Just awesome....I haven't seen the males lately ,but a few stray pretty tired looking females!
Lovely job with these !!

Warren Baker said...

Little stunners! None of our butterflies are quite as flamboyant as that :-)

It's certainly the end of summer here Kelly - Rain and gales tomorrow :-(

KAT said...

love the photos !!! love yellow , you know me ! and the antennae are so graceful on the butterfly

Guy said...

Hi Kelly

Great post wonderful photos.

Guy

Roy said...

Wow! beautiful images Kelly.

freebird said...

Beautiful! Hope you have a great day. We have clouds and sprinkles. Rain would be better but this is nice and makes for a nice day for us.

Randy Emmitt said...

Kelly,

Enjoyed this post, the photos were fun too. If I'm correct you should still see tigers into October in Ohio. You mentioned the field guide "Butterflies of Ohio" have you noted the book cover photo? Wonder who shot that photo?

Erica Lea said...

Gorgeous series! Look on the bright side, you will still have your stunning photos to look at during the grey days of winter:-)

Elizabeth Smith said...

These photos are SO lovely - rich with color and detail! I didn't know there was a dark form...now I'll have to look more carefully!

Kelly said...

...thanks, everyone!! The Tiger Swallowtails are so beautiful and graceful. I love them and have been seeing more than ever in my backyard too! Yeah!

Randy...the version of "Butterflies in Ohio" by Jaret Daniels that I have has an orange cover with a Baltimore Checkerespot by Randy Emmitt on it!! :-) Very cool, Randy!!

Pasadena Adjacent said...

That first group with the yellow flower. Me: happy happy happy