Animal Moments

Butterfly Visit

August 31. 2007

(Photo from Wikipedia, Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (male))

On a sticky late summer evening I was at my kitchen window when a large ink-and-lemon butterfly came to light on the geraniums in the windowbox. It was the first time I had seen this kind of butterfly, and I wished I had my camera. But of course the butterfly fluttered away after a few moments.

… Only to return a minute later and revisit the same flowers. I *could* have fetched the camera after all. Oh well, I got another good look before the insect zigzagged away again.

... But came back a third time and lit again among the pinky red geraniums. Now I had time to admire the handsome black stripes on the wings, and to notice how they are wider at the front edge and then taper delicately back and into the field of yellow. Was this another variety of monarch?

I didn’t get a photo, but I recalled enough details to look up my visitor later. I learned that this was Papilio glaucus (lit., “yellow butterfly”), family Papilionidae (Swallowtails), but the common name of this one is “eastern tiger swallowtail.” It is said to be our national insect. Who knew? But how wonderful to see this butterfly for the very first time, and in my own yard. How have I missed seeing them?