A Butterfly Hatches and I Have To Go To Work

A Butterfly Hatches and I Have To Go To Work

The forecast was for rain. Later. But early morning was still filled with the heavy fog of a cloud that forgot to lift. Maybe she didn't get her coffee. Regardless, I would not have thought this was the best morning for hatching out Spicebush Swallowtails.

By the time I spotted the newbie, I had about 7 minutes before the car and I were going to have to leave the premises. To say that these are not my best shots ever would be an understatement on the magnitude of saying there is a touch of drought in Texas this year.

However, I feel duty bound to show you that our "

gummy worm

," as one reader called it--had managed to reach maturity. So here they are. The wings! How crinkled, limp and moist! The legs! So challenged to carry the weight of those soggy wings!

He/she was not happy with this location for drying out and started crawling around for a better location. Immediately below this structure was a massive colony of spider webs, so I enticed her onto my finger, where I could carry her to a better spot--the area we call "the Meadow" in our yard.

She chose to crawl up a pepper plant. At least it has a strong structure. Here you can see the strongly patterned underwing--notice the void with iridescence between the orange spots--this is one of the keys to identifying a Spicebush Swallowtail. Even when soggy.

The Latin name for our Spicebush Swallowtail is

Papilio troilus

. While these swallowtails are known to eat Spicebush, they also consume Sassafras trees (I love sassafras trees). They may also use Prickly Ash or Tulip Poplar as host plants.

The final shot was just a little bit before lift off. You can see the very nice curl of the tongue. Again, you can see the void in the orange dot pattern. The

Pipevine Swallowtail

does not have this void. The Pipevine also has more blue iridescence on the top side of the lower wing, with a small dotted pattern of white rimming the lower edge of the lower wing. Spicebush Swallowtails have much larger white dots, with less of the blue iridescence.

For a side-by-side "viewing," check this


from an earlier post.

And here, from

Wikipedia Commons

, is a GOOD image of the topside of a Spicebush Swallowtail. Thank you, contributors to Wikipedia!




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