About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Photo Share: Black and yellow butterfly in Michigan

I saw a new butterfly today! It was a large black butterfly with a row of yellow spots across its back and lower wings.

I grabbed my Kaufman Field Guide to Butterflies of North American and found it was a Giant Swallowtail (Papilio cresphontes). The species is uncommon in mid-Michigan. Perhaps Hurricane Harvey has pushed it further north than usual or it is just another result of climate change.

While it was on the flowers, it was fluttering so fast I'm lucky that I was able to take its picture.

Giant Swallowtail interesting facts:
- These butterflies lay eggs on plants in the citrus family; orange, grapefruit, kumkuat, etc.

- The larval or caterpillar stage can be considered a pest due to its habit of feeding on the foliage of most Citrus species. Citrus fruit farmers often call the caterpillars orange dogs or orange puppies because of the devastation they can cause to their crops.

- The young caterpillars look much like wet bird droppings. Older caterpillars look like dry bird poop. Of course one of the best reasons to look like poop is the fact that few critters eat bird poop.

- Chrysalises of the Giant Swallowtail are hard to spot because they look like bark and are often attached to branches. During the cold months, chrysalises overwinter and emerge once the weather warms up in the spring.

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