What is this poor old ragged swallowtai? Spicebush? Pipevine?
It's much bigger than a BST which I see all the time. I felt bad, you see the poor thing is just about on its last legs. I was happy to see it out there.
It's a black form female tiger swallowtail on her last leg - bless her heart! :) I had to say that, because that's what my Mama always says when she means 'Poor thing' and people have been laughing at that phrase on TV a lot lately.
Let's just hope she left plenty of eggs behind.
Wow this is weird. I was thinking when I saw your answer that I seen a lot of giants this year but no tigers and then I went outside and who did I see? Pappa Tiger, that's Phystostegia virginia (Fall Obedient plant) he's on.
Wow Miss Sherry, I have no idea how you can tell distinguish black form P. glaucus from such a tattered butterfly.
When I see an old-timer like that, I try to remember that he or she is a true survivor in every sense of the word! It's a harsh world out there for leps and if they make it to a ripe old age, they deserve some kudos (with quite a bit of luck thrown in, I'm sure).
It is sad to see them on one hand, but I feel such marvel that they have obviously survived so long (that probably being around 2-3 weeks). I have seen only 1 Tiger this summer and I usually see a lot.
I saw an old Monarch male last week. He hung around for several days, and I'm not sure he was able to continue South very far anyway. His left wing was barely there. It looked like something (probably a bird) had bitten a huge round hole in the wing. It honestly looked like only the framework of the wing was left. But he happily fluttered around the garden nectaring and flying quite well despite the disability. I actually had never seen one before with so little wing remaining and still have some umph in his "get along", as my momma used to say, MissSherry!
Ways to tell one black swallowtail from another.
First, grab a copy of a good butterfly field guide as I cannot draw pictures on this board :). The guide should have an description of the bands on the hindwing. You should be familliar with "marginal","submarginal","postmedian",and "median" (basically end, before the end, after the middle, and middle. Leave it to the scientists to complicate things. Oh wait! I is a scientist! That exlains a lot :))
Okay, here we go!
1) Look at the dorsal hindwing.
a)on the black female tiger, there is a black band that dissects the submarginal band from the post median band. The blue that extends above this tends to be faint to absent (although it can be strong through the median portion of the wing).
In black swallowtails, the blue stops above this line and is replaced with faint yellow spots on the female (I think of the males strong yellow band here).
On spicebush, this black line is faint to absent and the blue extends through to the median band. The color of blue has more green and white in it (depending on where you are).
In pipevines, this line is absent, and the blue extends through the median portion of the hindwing. The pipevine is the only butterfly where the blue is predominantly caused by irridescence only and not pigment as in the others. So, depending on which direction you look at the wing, it can look black or flash with brilliant blue.
b) the top of the thorax has faint lines on either side, and the abdomen is black to striped on the tiger.
On the black sw, the thorax has two dots on either side. The abdomen has a row of spots on either side extending down it.
The spicebush will have four small spots on the top of the thorax with stripes extending down from the bottom two spots. The pipevine has a similar pattern, though the strips might be fainter. Also, the pipevine occasionally has iridescence on the body as well.
c)the lunules in the submarginal band of the tiger and black swallowtail are similar. I think the tigers are more well developed and have more orange. The Hindwing spot of the black is more developed and has a black "bullseye" in it (the only swallowtail in the east to have this).
The lunules of the spicebush are white with a bluish (or greenish) cast to them. They are larger than those of the tiger and black. The hindwing spot looks like a pair of mad eyes (the white extends along the side unlike the tiger and black)
The lunules of the pipevine are the smallest and the blue often extends down over them and into the tails.
Phew, anyone want to add anything or correct any mistakes?
By now, you probably already know that is on Gregg's Blue Mistflower... the best butterfly attractor in my county.
Yes I knew what is was, on I just didn't add it to the post. I have about 10 queens on it today!
Thanks for that post Bananas! I have added it to my clippings for future reference.