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Posts Tagged ‘swallowtail’

I’m back from a brief overseas trip and it’s time to switch back from shooting in urban surroundings to my more typical nature images. In the meantime, here’s a shot of a beautiful Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus) from a pre-trip visit to Huntley Meadows Park in Alexandria, Virginia.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Different flowers affect me differently—some attract me with their beauty or their fragrance or their colors. Others produce an emotional response, like sunflowers, which invariably make me feel happy.

The sunflower’s large size, bright colors, and bold graphic design appeal to me. The sunflower virtually shouts its presence to the world—there is nothing soft and delicate and hidden about a sunflower.

Like this Easter Tiger Swallowtail butterfly (Papilio glaucus), I sometimes enjoy the flowers one at a time. It was really fun, though, to visit a large field of sunflowers last month with some friends and to see row after row of these cheery flowers. I wanted to capture a group shot of the sunflowers, but I struggled to find a way to do so effectively (even though we had even brought along a little stepladder to give us a perspective from above the flowers).

In the end, my favorite shot (the second one below) focuses on a single sunflower, with other flowers a blur in the background. I used a simple 50mm lens (often called the “nifty fifty”) on my camera to make sure that I could control the aperture and throw the background out of focus.

EasternTigerSwallowtail lorez

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© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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I am always amazed that butterflies can fly with wings that are severely damaged. This morning I encountered this beautiful female Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterfly (Papilio glaucus) that had suffered some major damage to the area where the wings attach to the body. Despite the tears to the wings, the butterfly seemed unhindered in its flight and was busily at work, flying from bush to bush.

wounded_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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I have not yet seen many colorful butterflies this summer, so I was thrilled this past weekend when I observed a female Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterfly (Papilio glaucus) feeding on a Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis) and managed to get a couple of good shots.

The first image has a dreamy quality and a softness that I like, with a background that is almost pastel. The body of the butterfly is clearly visible, with its proboscis fully extended.

In the second shot, the colors are more vivid and the butterfly’s head is obscured. However, the wings are open wide and in a beautiful position.

My favorite is the first one. Is there one that you prefer?

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© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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I was really surprised today when I saw the the familiar shape and color of a female Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterfly (Papilio glaucus). Somehow I had expected to see them much later in the spring.

Normally I like to try to get photos of these beautiful butterflies perched on colorful flowers, but there are no colorful flowers yet in the marsh. Unfortunately, the butterfly that I was able to photograph decided to perch on the decomposing carcass of a snapping turtle (as you can see in the first photo). Most of my other shots were at least partially obscured by the grass.

Gradually the cast of characters is coming together that will probably play leading  roles in my blog postings in the upcoming months, the birds and beasts, and the reptiles and amphibians, not to mention the plants and flowers. I can hardly wait.

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Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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It felt good to have my Canon DSLR back in my hands after a week-long trip with only a point-and-shoot camera. After I arrived home from the airport this afternoon, I grabbed my camera and headed off to Green Spring Gardens, a local garden that is one of my favorite places to shoot.

There were only some diehard flowers blooming, but there were quite a number of Eastern Swallowtail butterflies. I watched (and chased) several of them, but the one you see below was my favorite. He attacked this flower from below repeatedly, seemingly defying gravity. It just was not clear to me how he was able to suspend himself in mid-air like that. He must have been hanging on with his feet, though he seemed to be moving them constantly.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterfly defying gravity

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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One of the coolest things about female Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterflies (Papilio glaucus) is that they come in two distinctly different colors, black and yellow. According to Wikipedia, that characteristic makes them dimorphic. I’m no scientist, so I had to do some research  to see what “dimorphic” means. If I understand it right, it means that there are two different phenotypes (called morphs) that exist in the same population of a species and they have to be in the same habitat at the same time to qualify.

I was thrilled yesterday to observe and photograph both variants at a local garden. The yellow ones resemble the male, although the male is only yellow and black and has no additional orange and blue markings. I have seen a lot of the yellow female swallowtails this summer. The black swallowtails, which have black bodies as well as black wings, seem to be more rare, or at least I have seen them only rarely this summer.

Which one is more beautiful? I’ll leave that call to each of you.

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Female Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterfly (black variant) UPDATE in 2020: I think that I misidentified this as an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail and now think it might be a Black Swallowtail, though the angle keeps me from being sure about the identification

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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As I start out with this blog I am posting a few of my favorite photographs. This is a close-up of what I am pretty certain is an Eastern Swallowtail butterfly. I shot it on 1 June at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens in Vienna, VA. I love this unusual perspective. It reminds me a little of a hang glider.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.


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