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Posts Tagged ‘Zebra Swallowtail’

As we move deeper into spring, more and more butterflies are starting to appear, like this beautiful Zebra Swallowtail (Protographium marcellus) that I spotted yesterday at Accotink Bay Wildlife Refuge. Zebra Swallowtails are most often associated with pawpaw trees, which is helpful to know, though I must confess I don’t know how to identify a pawpaw tree. What I do know is that these butterflies are constantly on the move and fly in such an erratic way that I have trouble getting a decent photograph of one.

Yesterday I managed to get a shot of a Zebra Swallowtail when it paused momentarily at a small tree, perhaps a possible pawpaw. What I like about the shot is that it shows well the colors of the butterfly as well as its long “tails.” I could not decide how much to crop the image, which was taken from a pretty good distance away, so I am including tow versions of the image. Personally I am drawn most to the second one, but recognize that many folks may prefer the first versions, which draws you more quickly to the butterfly’s beautiful details.

Zebra Swallowtail

Zebra Swallowtail

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

 

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One of the coolest looking butterflies in our area is the Zebra Swallowtail butterfly (Eurytides marcellus). In addition to having beautiful coloration, it has amazingly long “tails” that flutter when it is in flight. It is not a species that I see very often, so I will spend a lot of time chasing after one when I spot it, hoping, often in vain, that it will perch long enough for me to get a shot.

This Zebra Swallowtail, which I chased this past Friday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, was reasonably cooperative, though it refused to open its wings to give me a view of its entire wingspan.

Zebra Swallowtail

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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As I was exploring Accotink Bay Wildlife Refuge yesterday afternoon, Zebra Swallowtail butterflies (Protographium marcellus) kept fluttering by me. Occasionally one would perch for a moment  within range and I was able to get a few shots.

I really love the coloration and the shape of this beautiful butterfly that I rarely see. Although this butterfly is often associated with pawpaw trees, the ones that I saw perched mostly on the ground and seem to be obtaining either water or minerals.

Zebra Swallowtail

Zebra Swallowtail

Zebra Swallowtail

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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As I was out searching for dragonflies in the heat of the midday sun, a butterfly came fluttering into view. I haven’t seen many large butterflies yet this spring, so I followed after it, trying to identify it. When the butterfly paused for a moment to feed on one plant, I scrambled to get a shot.

The light was harsh and coming from a bad direction, but my long telephoto showed me clearly that it was a swallowtail butterfly, but definitely not at all colored like the Eastern Tiger Swallowtails that I often see during the summer. The markings were distinctive enough that it was easy to determine later that it is a Zebra Swallowtail butterfly (Eurytides marcellus), a species that I had never before encountered.

Multiple sources indicate that the Zebra Swallowtail is closely associated with the pawpaw tree, though I don’t know enough about trees and blossoms to determine if that is the plant on which this butterfly was feeding.

As I was poking about on the internet, I also learned from ereferencedesk.com that in 1995 the Zebra Swallowtail was designated as the official state butterfly of Tennessee. I must confess that I didn’t know that states have official butterflies.

Zebra Swallowtail

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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