Rare visitor in the Garden today!

terrene(5b MA)July 31, 2012

I've lurked on threads about butterflies like Gulf frits and Giant Swallowtails and always thought "I will never see that butterfly in my garden". So when I looked out in the back garden this morning, and saw a large yellow butterfly from a distance, I automatically assumed it was the common Eastern tiger swallowtail.

Then I went out to the garden, with the camera, and realized quickly "that's no ETS" - it was a DIFFERENT large yellow butterfly. Could it be a Giant Swallowtail??? Went inside and googled and quickly confirmed that it was Papilio cresphontes (I love saying that)! Apparently this is a very rare butterfly in Massachusetts.

Here's a couple pics - they're not easy to photograph because they wiggle a lot. It was really loving the Monarda 'Claire Grace' and the Verbena bonariensis. Does any one know if this is a male or female? I have lots of Ruta graveolens!

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That's a Giant, alright! What a beauty!

    Bookmark   July 31, 2012 at 10:45PM
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Yay, congratulations on getting a Giant Swallowtail in your garden! That one is a female. Someone explained once before on here that the females have a black spot in the third yellow spot. Also, males have a broader yellow band across the top than females do. I hope that your GST lays some eggs on your rue. I absolutely love raising that kind of butterfly, more than any other with the exception of the Pipevine Swallowtail.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2012 at 11:25PM
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Congratulations! I was so surprised when I saw one on vacation in upstate NY last summer. I assume there must have been Prickly Ash nearby!

    Bookmark   August 1, 2012 at 1:11AM
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terrene(5b MA)

Oh gosh, I am SO excited about this butterfly! It's a female!! Cathy, I'm not sure exactly where the "black spot in the third yellow spot" is?

I didn't actually observe her laying any eggs, but that doesn't mean she didn't. Ugh, I should really check the rue carefully (seeds came from you Cathy) but they are really bushy little plants, not easy to see eggs! Very tedious egg-hunting, I have tried to find BST eggs and cats and the only time I have found them is when I observed exactly where the female oviposited. Also found 2 5th instar cats this year on the rue.

Monarch eggs are so much easier to find.

Course the Rue is growing for the Black Swallowtails, NEVER thought I'd see a Giant. Such an exciting butterfly day! 3 Monarchs eclosed and I saw 2 wild ones in the garden too.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2012 at 2:26AM
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