Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

by Rachel Creager Ireland

This lovely butterfly, Papilio glaucus, visited a stand of echinacea and drank deeply of her nectar. In fact, there were two, who enjoyed the flowers for quite some time. The other was actually even more spectacular, with a row of brilliant blue dots along the lower edge of her hindwing. (It is appropriate to refer to her in the feminine, as the female of the species sports this blue row, while the male is only yellow and black, like the one we see here.) This is said to be one of the more common of the larger butterflies here in the Flint Hills, though I don’t see them nearly as often as I’d like. But echinacea’s wiles attract many types of butterflies, including the flirtatious American lady, and the declining regal fritillary, so I’ll make a note to save some of the seeds, come fall, and plant them widely.

I always imagine that butterflies and fairies have a special mutual affinity. Perhaps those of you readers who visit the fairy realm might ask them what they have to say about the tiger swallowtail?

Thanks to Pat Larkin for  the wonderful photograph.