Tag Archives: Black Swallowtail Butterfly

Save the Date ~ Screening of My Film “Life Story of the Black Swallowtail Butterfly”

On August 16th at the Berkshire Museum they’ll be showing a double header of sorts. Earlier in the afternoon at 2:00pm is a presentation of my program on how to attract butterflies and pollinators to your garden, titled “The Pollinator Garden,” followed by a showing of my film Life Story of the Black Swallowtail Butterfly, followed by a Q & A. The event is part of the “Butterflies” exhibit currently on display at the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield. I hope you can come join me!

Black Swallowtail osmeterium ©Kim Smith 2011 copy

In the above photo, the orange horn-like structure at the top of the caterpillar’s head is called an osmeterium. When the caterpillar is distressed, it everts the osmeterium. The osmeterium is thought to be a mimic of a snake’s tongue and is a defense against would-be predators such as birds. Additionally, a horrible smelly odor is released from the osmeterium, which can be smelled from a distance of up to ten feet away, and is yet another defense mechanism!

See previous GMG posts about the “Butterflies” exhibit here.

 Butterflies at the Berkshire

Museum Map to Berkshire Museum Provided by GMG FOB Catherine Ryan

Exciting New Film Assignment for the Berkshire Museum Black Swallowtail Butterfly Male ©Kim Smith 2013

Thanks So Much to Kate and Our Friends at Wolf Hill!!!

Black Swallowtail Butterfly Male ©Kim Smith 2013

Newly Emerged Male Black Swallowtail Butterfly

Thanks to Kate and the team at Wolf Hill for giving me a second Black Swallowtail caterpillar of the season. And, as I was getting ready to discard the parsley plant from the first caterpillar they had found at the garden center earlier in May, I discovered yet a third caterpillar.

Chrysalis #2 eclosed yesterday in the early morning hours. The butterfly in the photo above is newly emerged, so much so that you can see its abdomen is still swollen with fluids as it is expelling a drop. After first drying his wings on the zinnias, he flew off in search of nectar and a mate. I just can’t thank you enough Kate, and everyone at Wolf Hill who is taking an interest in the caterpillars!

Black Swallowtail Butterfly Zinnia Male ©Kim Smith 2013.Male Black Swallowtail Butterfly and Zinnia

Lecture Tonight for the Southboro Open Land Foundation

Pollinators: the Birds, Butterflies and Bees (7:00 – 8:45 pm): Southborough Open Land Foundation welcomes Kim Smith, a specialist on pollinators, such as butterflies and other insects, and their important role in sustaining the earth. She will share a stunning slide show and informative lecture, The Pollinator Garden. Presentation includes “BomBom Butterfly” video demonstrating the life cycle of the Black Swallowtail Butterfly. A list of possible plants for your property will be provided. Event is free and open to the public – will be held in main reading room of the Southboro Library, 25 Main Street.

Newly emerged black swallowtail butterfly wedgewood blue lilac ©Kim Smith 2013Newly Emerged Male Black Swallowtail Butterfly

Swally Note from Morgan Faulds Pike

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Gloucester Sculptor and Gardening Friend Morgan Faulds Pike writes ~

Hi Kim,

Just read your post at GMG and thought I’d send this along since it happened today.

I went into the barn to put the broom back after sweeping the porch and I did the daily check of Swally! OMG!
Had to rush the photos because I didn’t know how much time I had.  I transferred him via his stick to the monarda. Then he flew away into the juniper hedge, perhaps to be shaded while firming up…
He was a tiny caterpillar last fall.  We fed him parsley and you advised us to let him winter in the barn.
Success!

Thanks and Cheers,

Morgan

Morgan Faulds Pike is well-known throughout Gloucester. She is the world famous sculptor who created Gloucester’s beloved Fishermen’s Wives Memorial.

full_size_clay_copyMorgan at Work on the Full-Size Clay for the Gloucester Fishermen’s Wives Memorial

91_owls-2Leaf-person and Owls by Morgan Faulds Pike

Newly Emerged Black Swallowtail Butterfly

Male Black Swallowtail Butterfly Wedgewood Blue Lilac ©Kim Smith 2013Male Black Swallowtail and Lilac ‘Wedgwood Blue’

This past autumn I wrote about a Black Swallowtail caterpillar that was discovered munching on the parley plants at Wolf Hill Garden Center in Gloucester. The caterpillar had left the parsley plant and wandered around the office at Wolf Hill, where it had pupated, or in other words, turned into a chrysalis, on the razor-thin edge of an envelope. By chance, I met Kate, who works at Wolf Hill, one afternoon at Eastern Point while I was filming Monarchs, where she and her friend were looking at the butterflies through binoculars. She asked if I would be interested in taking care of the chrysalis over the winter. I of course said I would be delighted to do so!

The butterfly chrysalis lived in a terrarium all winter. The terrarium was placed in an unheated entryway. I thought it best for the chrysalis to experience normal winter temperatures rather than live in a heated home where it might be fooled into thinking it was spring. In the early spring we brought the terrarium onto our unheated front porch where it would be exposed to daylight .

A stunning male Black Swallowtail emerged last week. Earlier that very day I had seen a female Black Swallowtail nectaring at azaleas at a farm in a neighboring town. See the original post on Good Morning Gloucester about Kate and the Wolf Hill caterpillar.

Thank you Kate for the Black Swallowtail Chrysalis!

Black Swallowtail Chrysalis Brown form-1Black Swallowtail Chrysalis ~ Brown Form

Come Visit My Film’s New Website!

When you have a spare minute, I hope you”ll take a moment to look at the new website for my forthcoming film Life Story of the Black Swallowtail Butterfly. I had lots of fun creating the website and it was great to be able to assemble and house all the information in one place, including photos, upcoming events, the trailer, and a share page. Please let me what you think. THANK YOU! 

Life Story of the Black Swallowtail Butterfly

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To all who have expressed interest in attending the premier of Life Story of the Black Swallowtail Butterfly, the advance tickets are selling rapidly and the event is nearly sold out.  Please purchase tickets while still available. Link to Advance Ticket sales at Cape Ann Community Cinema.

Garden Tour with Kim Smith at Willowdale Estate

Please join me Monday evening for a tour of the butterfly gardens I designed for Willowdale Estate. Come experience a taste of Briar’s gracious hospitality and enjoy refreshments served in the conservatory. The tulips are at their peak and look simply spectacular this year. I will also be showing several of my short films. Please RSVP to Sarah at: Sarah@WillowdaleEstate.com ~ 978-887-8211.

I hope to see you there!

Kim Smith Artist Spotlight 2013

SAVE the DATE ~ WORLD PREMIERE of My Film!!!

COMING SOON! WORLD PREMIERE at the

CAPE ANN COMMUNITY CINEMA

FRIDAY JUNE 21, 2013 at 7:30 pm

ADVANCE TICKETS available at Cape Ann Community Cinema

FINAL web  Life Story of the Black Swallowtail Movie poster CACC -1Come celebrate the premiere of my film, Life Story of the Black Swallowtail Butterfly, on the Summer Solstice, Friday, June 21st at 7:30pm, at the Cape Ann Community Cinema.

As everyone who knows me knows, I have been working on developing this film for nearly two years. It is the first to be completed in the trilogy and I am overjoyed to announce the premiere will be held at the Cape Ann Community Cinema. Many thanks to Rob Newton for inviting me to have the premiere at his wonderfully unique and super fun movie theatre. I hope everyone will come celebrate this special night with me. I think you will love seeing scenes of our native flora and fauna, filmed all around Gloucester and Cape Ann, on the Big Screen.

The Life Story of the Black Swallowtail Butterfly is a 45-minute narrated film. Every stage of the butterfly’s life cycle is experienced in vibrant close-up, from conception to pupation to metamorphosis. The film is for adults and for children so that all can gain a deeper understanding of the symbiotic relationship between wildflowers and pollinators and the vital role they play in our ecosystem. Filmed in Gloucester.

ADVANCE TICKETS available at Cape Ann Community Cinema

Light refreshments, including wine, and beer will be served. I hope to see you there!

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Happy Earth Day and Habitat Gardening 101

To celebrate Earth Day (Earth Week-Earth Month-Everyday is Earth Day!), I am beginning a new series on GMG titled Habitat Gardening 101. The series is based on the lectures that I give to area conservation groups, garden clubs, libraries, and schools and is designed to provide information on the relationships between our native flora and fauna, and how to translate that information to your own garden. You will find in this series information on how to support and encourage to your garden a wide variety of wildlife, including songbirds, butterflies, bees, moths, skippers, hummingbirds, and small mammals, and the trees, wildflowers, shrubs, vines, and groundcovers that sustain these beautiful creatures.

This series could just as well be titled Beauty in Our Midst because there are so many gems to be found along our shoreline, meadows, fields, wetlands, dunes, woodlands, and roadsides. Although the series will cover a wide array of flora and wildlife, the first posts will be about several butterfly attracting trees and shrubs because they are currently in bloom. Coming Wednesday, the North American native Pussy Willow will be featured. For today, the following is one of my Top Ten Tips for Attracting Lepidoptera to Your Garden.

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Habitat Gardening 101 Tip #1: Plant Caterpillar Food Plants

So you want to attract tons of butterflies to your garden and you plant lots of gorgeous, colorful nectar-rich plants—and that is wonderful. To your garden will come many beautiful, albeit transient, butterflies, along with an array of many different species of beneficial pollinators. However, if you want butterflies to colonize your garden, in other words, to experience the grand beauty of the creature through all its stages of life, from egg to caterpillar to chrysalis to adult, you must also plant caterpillar food plants.

Black Swallowtail Caterpillar egg fennel ©Kim Smith 2013

Black Swallowtail Butterfly Egg on Fennel (the pinhead-sized golden yellow dot)

Each species of butterfly caterpillar will only eat from a family of plants it has coevolved a relationship with over millennia. We call this a caterpillar food plant, host plant, or larval food plant.

Perhaps you may recall that the Monarch Butterfly only deposits her eggs on milkweed plants. The Black Swallowtail Butterfly deposits her eggs on, and the caterpillars feast on, members of Umbelliferae (Apiaceae), or carrot family of plants, including carrots, parsley, fennel, dill, and Queen Anne’s Lace. Some caterpillars, like the stunning Eastern Tiger Swallowtail feed from several plant families, like those of Magnoliaceae and Rosaceae, which species include the Wild Black Cherry, the Tulip Tree, and the Sweet Bay Magnolia.

  Black Swallowtail Caterpillar Eating Parsley

If you see a green, black and yellow striped and spotted caterpillar munching on your parsley plant, it is not a Monarch caterpillar; it is a Black Swallowtail caterpillar (I am often asked this question). Monarch caterpillars are striped yellow, black, and white, always. You will never find a Black Swallowtail caterpillar munching on milkweed; likewise you will never find a Monarch caterpillar eating your parsley and fennel.

Another question frequently asked is, if I invite caterpillars to my garden, will they devour all the foliage. The answer is, for the most part, no. The damage done is relatively minimal, the plant generally recovers quickly, and bear in mind too, that plants have evolved with many mechanisms to discourage their complete destruction. Remember, the plant was responsible for inviting the butterfly to its flower in the first place!

 Black Swallowtail Caterpillar fennel ©Kim Smith 2013

Note too, that if you invite butterflies to your garden to deposit their eggs, please don’t turn around and spray pesticides, which will kill all, indiscriminately. A habitat garden, by its very definition, is an organic garden, which means no herbicides, insecticides, pesticides, and chemical fertilizers.

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Feel free to send any and all questions, suggestions for a topic, or curiosity, to the comment section under each post.

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Cape Ann Milkweed Project Update: Because of the chilly spring weather, milkweed shoots are slow to emerge.

Link to a list of lectures and workshops at Kim Smith Designs

Shout Out to Professor Gandhi

So many, many thanks to my former botany professor, Dr. Kanchi Gandhi, who sent my BomBom Butterflies video to many of his colleagues, friends, and students. My video is getting a growing number of hits in India! I loved every second of Doctor Gandhi’s class and wished often I could be his full time student. Professor Gandhi’s classes are held at the Harvard University Herbaria, with more than 5 million plant specimens. Along with its library, the Herbaria forms the world’s largest university owned herbarium.

gandhi-1

Doctor Gandhi’s interests are in the areas of plant nomenclature, plant morphology, and plant taxonomy. He is currently working on the International Plant Name Index, the HUH lookup tables, and Flora of North America project. In 2010 he was awarded the American Society of Plant Taxonomist Distinguished Service Award, which is only given occasionally and reserved for individuals who have made exceptional efforts for ASPT or the plant-systematics community in general.

Kanchi Gandhi ASPT presentation

India is a country rich in flora and many species of butterlies. A beautiful Indian butterfly we on Cape Ann may find particularly interesting is the Blue Tiger Butterfly (Tirumala limniace).

Blue Tiger Butterfly Tirumala limniace

It bears a striking resemblance to our Monarch Butterfly (both members of Nymphalidae, sub-family Danainae, or Brush-foot Family of butterflies) with the clearly defined mitten-shaped cell on the underside of the hindwing. And like our Monarch caterpillars, Blue Tiger caterpillars generally feed on the milkweed family of plants (Asclepiadaceae). Another similarity is that the Blue Tiger migrates through Southern India, although the distance traveled is not quite as long as that of the Monarchs.

Images Courtesy Google Image Search

BomBom Butterflies Video

BomBom Butterflies ~ Featuring Black Swallowtail Butterflies and Common Milkweed at Good Harbor Beach

Scenes from my forthcoming film Life Story of the Black Swallowtail Butterfly set to “BomBom” by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, featuring the Teaching, from the album The Heist by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis.

When you have a moment, please watch my newest video. I have submitted it to a video contest sponsored by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis from their debut album The Heist. Macklemore and Ryan Lewis created the beautiful Same Love video that I posted about last week. If you like my video please share the link; I think the more clicks received, the more notice gained. The winner will be announced on April 8th.

BomBom Butterflies

Happy Easter! Happy Spring! Happy Passover! and

Happy Warm Weather! 

BomBom Butterflies ~ Featuring Black Swallowtails and Common Milkweed at Good Harbor Beach

Scenes from my forthcoming film Life Story of the Black Swallowtail Butterfly set to “BomBom” by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, featuring the Teaching, from the album The Heist by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis.

When you have a moment, please watch my newest video. I have submitted it to a video contest sponsored by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis from their debut album The Heist. Macklemore and Ryan Lewis created the beautiful Same Love video that I posted about last week. If you like my video please share the link; I think the more clicks received, the more notice gained. The winner will be announced on April 8th.

Thank you Kate for the Black Swallowtail Chrysalis!

Last week while filming on Eastern Point I had the pleasure to meet Kate, who works at Wolf Hill. She was with a friend and they were looking for butterflies through binoculars. I had seen Kate often at the garden center, but never stopped to chat. We were talking about all things butterfly when she mentioned that she had a Black Swallowtail caterpillar on a parsley plant back at the nursery office. She offered the caterpillar to me and I gladly accepted. My Black Swallowtail film is nearing completion but there was one missing piece to the story.

Black Swallowtail Chrysalis ~ Green Form

The swallowtail chrysalides that I had on film were all greenish gold. Oftentimes the Black Swallowtail chyrsalis will turn a woody brown, but no matter how hard I looked, I could not find a woody brown chrysalis. Not showing the brown form, I knew, would confuse viewers, especially families who are interested in raising swallowtails.

Kate’s caterpillar pupated while she was away from work for a few days. When she returned she found the chrysalis had wandered from the parsley plant and it had pupated on the razor thin edge of an envelope-as office caterpillars are want to do. Well, you guessed it–the Wolf Hill pupa was the brown form!

Black Swallowtail Chrysalis ~ Brown Form

I know it is said often on the pages of this blog, but Kate’s thoughfullness goes to show once again what a beautiful community is Gloucester–stunning visually, and most special of all, are the beautiful, kind-hearted people who call Gloucester home.  Thank you Kate!

Not finding a brown chrysalis is a relatively escoteric problem, to say the least, but I think you will agree that the two forms of the pupal case are remarkably different in appearance. In this photo you can see where I have taped the envelope behind a tree trunk in order to film. This is how you would find the chrysalis in a more natural setting.

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There are several openings  remaining in my Close-up Photography Workshop at the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University, which will be held this coming Sunday morning at 9:00 am. I would love to see you there! Follow this link to register.

Capturing a sharply in focus close-up of a butterfly, especially one in mid-flight, is one of the greatest challenges of photography and I will be revealing techniques such as these, and more; techniques that have taken many, many hours over many years to perfect. All the photos I have shot in the past year and a half were taken not with a zoom lens, but were shot with a 23mm prime lens. I am typically photographing within a foot’s distance of the butterflies!

Fujifilm X series cameras pose their own set of challenges, especially when shooting close-up. Fujifilm X series owner’s especially may find this class helpful.

Giant Swallowtail Photos from FOB Sarah Gershaw

Several days ago we posted about the local Giant Swallowtail Butterfly sightings. GMG reader and Wenham resident Sarah Gershaw reported she spotted a Giant Swallowtail in her garden that very day. She’s sent in her terrific photos. Thank you Sarah for sharing!

Giant Swallowtail Butterfly (Papilio cresphontes)

All Photos Courtesy Sarah Gershaw

Giant Swallowtail Butterfly Alert!!!

Last week the Giant Swallowtail butterfly visited our garden for a brief moment. I ran indoors to get my camera but it had departed by the time I returned. This morning my my friend John, who lives across from Folly Cove, emailed to say he too has spotted a Giant Swallowtail. John and I correspond regularly about butterfly sightings–I love to hear about what he is seeing on the other side of the island– and this is the first time both he and I have observed Giant Swallowtails in our gardens.

Giant Swallowtail Butterfly (Papilio cresphontes)

Photo Courtesy Marti Warren

One of my readers, Marti Warren, wrote in on Monday that she spotted a Giant Swallowtail Butterfly last week in her garden in Amherst, New Hampshire. 

From my favorite butterfly book, Butterflies of the East Coast by Cech and Tudor, “Although they are not regular migrants, Giant Swallowtails have appeared with some consistency as vagrants in the North, and occasionally form colonies.”
On the range map provided in the above book, the northern border of Massachusetts is at the end of the Giant Swallowtails range so I think it is fairly unusual to see one in central New Hampshire.

Male Black Swallowtail Butterfly (Papilo polyxenes)

Three easy ways to know whether you are seeing the more common male Black Swallowtail or the Giant Swallowtail.

1) The wingspan of the male Black Swallowtail is approximately 3.2 inches; the Giant Swallowtail’s wingspan nearly five inches.

2) Both the male and female Giant Swallowtails have a band of yellow spots that converge near the apex.

3) Additionally the only blue irredescence on the Giant Swallowtail is a semi-circular “eyebrow” over the orange and black eyespots.

Let us know if you think you have seen a Giant Swallowtail in your garden recently. If you have a photo, even better!

Butterfly Gardening with Eloise and Madeline

Madeline and Eloise

Last summer the Ciaramitaro girls stopped by our garden to see a newly emerged Monarch butterfly.  After releasing the butterfly, Eloise wanted to learn more about the Monarchs, and butterflies in general. This year she remembered from their visit the previous year that the Monarch caterpillar food plant is milkweed. Eloise, who I am convinced is a budding naturalist and artist, is an avid gardener (just ask her about her vegetable patch!), so I promised her milkweed plants. We scouted out a sunny a corner of the family’s yard and, after mom Jill helped dig up the sod, we planted a petite butterfly garden, with Common Milkweed for the Monarchs, parsley and fennel for the Black Swallowtails, and marigolds to attract the nectaring insects. We’re looking forward to their first butterfly sightings!

Eloise

Life Story of the Black Swallowtail Trailer

Dear Friends,

You’ve heard me talking about my butterfly film (for Months!). I began filming the black swallowtails last July and am only now close to finishing.  I am so excited to share this project with you and hope you enjoy the trailer.

My daughter Liv and friend Kathleen Adams collaborated on a beautiful rendition of “Simple Gifts.” The music in the background is an improv interlude from their recording session.

Coming soon: Documentary about the Life Story of the Black Swallowtail Butterfly, from egg, to caterpillar, to chryrsalis, to adult. Filmed in a garden and along the seashore, Gloucester, Massachusetts. Featuring the black swallowtail butterfly, wildflowers, pollinators, the sun, the garden, and more.

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