July 30th was a good butterfly day!

bob_71(z7 MD)August 1, 2010

The weather was great and the butterflies cooperated!

First, the female Eastern Tailed Blue (Cupido comyntas) decided to pose for a few topside views.

Then, my first Pearl Crescent (Phyciodes tharos) showed up.

This dark form example of the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus) showed up in prime condition. Previously, most had been badly worn, scratched and battle scarred. Could some of you experienced members suggest a good way to distinguish between this subject and the female Black Swallowtail when you don't get a view of the underside?

Finally, the Brazilian Verbena is at it's peak and is an absolute butterfly magnet. This is a gangley, sprawling plant but is a beautiful color and the blooms are super long lasting.

Thanks for sharing them with me.


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Probably the best and easiest way to tell from the dorsal side is the orange inner margin eye spots. In the black swallowtails they have a black bullseye. In the others it is pure orange. In addition, black swallowtail females don't seem to have blue above the medial band, whereas tigers do.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2010 at 4:51PM
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jeanner(SW Ohio - Z6)

Sounds like a great day and you got some great captures!

    Bookmark   August 1, 2010 at 8:03PM
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runmede(7a Virginia)

There is a dark line that borders (scalloped as it is) part of the blue in the Tiger. The Spicebush does not have this and neither does the Black Swallowtail. In some dark tigers you may be able to see faint tiger markings.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2010 at 10:30PM
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jrcagle(z7 MD)

The two "gut" keys for me are

(1) Size: Tigers big, Blacks small. The largest Blacks will be only as large as the smallest Tigers.

(2) Yellow spots. Blacks have double rows of yellow spots on the forewing, double rows of yellow spots on the body, yellow spots on the hindwing ...

Exhibit A: Papilio polyxenes f

If you're lucky to see the light through the wings, a third key is that female Tigers are really dark brown, not black.

What's hard for me is sexing Black Swallowtails when they are ambiguous. I believe this one is male because of the solid row of yellow spots inside the blue, but he might be best called "metrosexual."

    Bookmark   August 1, 2010 at 11:01PM
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runmede(7a Virginia)

There are small Tigers that can be the size of a Spicebush. But, this year most of the Tigers are huge and plentiful. They were even out today when it was cloudy and chilly. Nothing much was flying, but they were.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2010 at 12:27AM
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bob_71(z7 MD)

runmede, the 'ghosting' of the tiger stripes is the characteristic that I am most comfortable with WHEN I can detect them. Often the light is not conducive to picking up this trait but when it is, it is really evident. See picture below of an underside view with flash.

Thanks, so much, to all of you who contributed the ID tips. They are extremely important to those of us just getting started in this!


    Bookmark   August 2, 2010 at 9:28PM
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rsingley(z6a NJ)

I'm jealous of you all... I haven't had that quantity or quality of butterflies in my gardens this year, nor have I ever taken such beautiful photos. Great job to you all.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2010 at 9:44PM
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runmede(7a Virginia)

I raised the Tiger (Black Form) in the picture. I wintered it over. It survived our porch falling down this past winter when we had over two foot of snow. Just before she finished drying her wings I placed her on her host plant. I wanted to try to give her a hint about where she should be laying when she was ready.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2010 at 12:53AM
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