The Eastern Black Swallowtail

I’ve recently been to Italy and there we saw a Swallowtail butterfly:

Swallowtails

They are huge and unmistakable. This week I’m in Virginia in the east of the USA and we see another unmistakable butterfly by the roadside; “That must be a Black Swallowtail”, I say.

I check, and it is:

Black swallowtail - Papilio polyxenes - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

It’s an Eastern Black Swallowtail, Papilio polyxenes asterius:

This is a female, with the larger blue areas on the wings. I like the fact that their young caterpillars are mimics of bird excrement; of all the things you could evolve to look like, it had to be bird poo. I’m assuming that it puts birds off trying to eat them. Then it changes to look like this; that’s metamorphosis for you.

Black swallowtail - Papilio polyxenes - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

Next week I’ll be undergoing my own personal metamorphosis: I’ll be back at work.

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