Saturday, July 20, 2013

Getting Sidetracked can be Fun! (Black Swallowtail Pics)

I have a multitude of things I need to do today, but I saw something I've never seen before, and want to show you.

I always use any unfinished water, tea, or coffee to water plants with.  This morning, when I went out to do that, I saw what I think was a hoverfly, different from the others I've seen.  I went in for my camera, but it flew off before I could get a decent photo.  Then, a black swallowtail butterfly caught my eye, and tolerated my picture taking for a good amount of time.  (My friend, Dan, aka Dan the Butterfly Man thinks this is a spicebush swallowtail.  Either way, it's a beauty!  Thanks, Dan!)

I always start out from a distance, and use my zoom before approaching, just in case whatever I am trying to get photos of flies off.  I also am careful not to cast a shadow, so I won't scare them away.  It was fun to get a photo of this one flying.  I wish both wings were visible, though.

From the information I looked up, I'm pretty sure this is a female black.  I see there is a bee or hoverfly on another bloom.  There were different flying things bugging this butterfly some.

I was pleased when the butterfly landed on a flower that was near where I was.

There is another creature that I did not see when I took this photo.  You probably can't see it, since you don't know what it is, but it's between the petals of the flower the butterfly is on.

Can you see it in this photo?  My heart is pitter pattering looking at how close they were to each other.

Look!  It's a crab spider!  I got excited, and told the butterfly to be careful.  I was ready to intervene if I saw movement.  The butterfly flew off, not liking my commotion. 

No meal for you this time!

Some information I found called crab spiders beneficial, but they eat insects that are beneficial, so I have mixed feelings about them.  I also read that they stay in one spot, sometimes several days or more, waiting for their prey.  Grace, I didn't take it off, but am thinking about going out to see if it's still there.  Others who read this, do you remove crab spiders?  I try to take a hands off approach as much as I can when it comes to these things, but I may have saved this butterfly's life, and part of me wants to go out and make sure this one cannot take another.  Oh, the drama of gardening!


  1. Sue, with the irridescent color on the hind wings and the white spots, I think its a spicebush rather than a black swallowtail.

  2. Hi Sue,
    I'm sitting here listening to's SO hot. A thunder storm would be wonderful. It's been too hot to be outside except for early morning and evenings for way too long now.
    You may have helped me because I saw a white spider in my garden that looked like yours except it had a red mark on it's back.I did alot of online research and could find nothing. I've had no idea what it was..... From the looks of your spider, it's probably a crab spider cousin.
    BTW....your pics are spectacular!

  3. Thanks, Dan,
    I am glad you have a good eye for these things. I went and looked at photos of both, and could not tell. I'm surprised, because from what I read, the spicebush swallowtail larvae don't eat parsley or dill.

  4. Hi Sue, That EVIL little spider. :) I know they're just doing what they were put on this earth to do but why can't they go after aphids? Why unsuspecting little bees?

    I'm glad you were there to protect that gorgeous butterfly. You sure get a lot more butterflies in Nebraska than we get here. Great photos!

  5. What a lovely series of photos. It's great to see such a beautiful butterfly close up. I've seen spiders exactly like yours in my garden here too. Obviously they're a common sight in so many spots around the world.

  6. Beautiful butterfly!!! I just ignore crab spiders. Good luck.

  7. What pretty photos. Swallowtails are always beautiful and you have so many colorful blooms too.
    I leave all spiders in the garden unless it is a black widow. I kill any spider that moves into the house.

  8. Great photos, Sue! I saw a Swallowtail the other day, but I wasn't quick enough with the camera. We have the crab spiders here, too, and I would struggle with what to do, as well. I'd rather the spiders eat flies and other pesky bugs.

  9. Beautiful photos! I still have very few butterflies here so I will have to enjoy yours.

    I was guessing an Eastern Black Swallowtail because of the two rows of white spots on the hind wings.

    What ever it is, it is a treat to see.

  10. Sue, you always have such a variety of flowers in your garden. I suspect there is a whole culture of life that exists in your flower garden. Nature is cruel in how it all works. I just allow nature to take it's course in my garden. As you know, I don't really have many flowers yet but some day that may happen. There are years when the garden is great and other years when the garden is not so great. If there are no bad bugs in the garden then the good bugs will move on to find food. Nature has to live in balance so that what I try to do.

    I too love your pictures. Have a great day in the garden.

  11. I'm with you Sue, I would have shooed the butterfly away if I saw trouble about to happen, but otherwise I would NOT remove the crab spider. Mostly I just let nature take it's course. But I sure was mad when I saw a preying mantis eating a monarch!

  12. Fantastic! We saw our first black swallowtail of the summer on Sunday, but didn't get a picture.


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