03 June 2012
An Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus) photographed yesterday nectaring on a lupine in our back yard. Swallowtails are large, graceful and powerful fliers that herald the onset of summer at our latitude.
It's quite easy to see how "tigers" received their common name. There are subtypes distributed through the various climate zones of North America, and close relatives around much of the world. I've never been successful in finding any eggs or rearing any caterpillars of this species, because they oviposit on trees (cherry, chokecherry, ash, cottonwood, poplar, willow, birch, lilac, apple, maple, basswood) as food sources.
But they do come to ground level to nectar, and this fellow was so delighted with the lupine that he sat there long enough for me to run into the house for a camera and then position the lens an inch from his wings for a couple dozen photos, of which I liked this one best (click for bigger).