swallowtail butterfly

buttefly

This swallowtail butterfly greeted me this a.m. in my backyard. There are over 550 species of swallowtail globally and roughly 30 in the US. They are the largest butterfly species in North America. Their name comes from the forked wings that resemble swallows. Their wings are transparent, reflecting light through the scales of proteins that fall of while aging. It appears as 2 wings but there are actually four. The average life span of butterflies is 2-4 week. Swallowtail are solitary beauties and do not normally migrate. They communicate, as do all butterflies, through scent and sight. During mating males will do a dance of sort and pheromones to attract the female.  Among others, they substitute on zinnias, oregano, purple coneflower, butterfly bush, overripe fruits, mud and some manure. Fill your yard with native plants that invite bees and butterflies. The Eastern tiger swallowtail (yellow one) is Georgia’s state butterfly.

animal camouflage

mothAs I walked out the door this morning I thought this was a leaf, but it is a moth. Animals are masters at self defense and changing their appearance to match their environment. The most common is the the chameleon that can change colors on a whim. One of the most amazing is the Indonesian Mimic Octopus. One of my favorites is the Malaysian Orchid Mantis, how lovely to live in orchids unseen. Now that I think about it – how many animals have we NOT seen?

orchid-mantis

peringueys_viper