Observation of the week – June 22-28, 2019

Our first observation of the week is a big one – literally! This Eastern Giant Swallowtail (https://inaturalist.ca/observations/27716863) was seen by user @kbann in her backyard in Erin Township.

The Eastern Giant Swallowtail is the largest butterfly species in Canada. Karen (aka @kbann) says she noticed the butterfly out of the corner of her eye as it was flying around her yard and thought at first that it was a black swallowtail, but really big – “the size of a small bird”. She wanted to get a picture to add to our Butterfly Blitz project, so began to chase the butterfly around.

Anyone who’s ever tried to get a picture of swallowtail knows that they don’t often sit still, and that they have an annoying habit of swooping up over a tree just as you catch up to them. Karen’s yard includes a mix of native trees, shrubs and pollinator plants alongside traditional garden perennials, and the swallowtail proceeded to visit almost all of them in quick succession – never stopping long enough for Karen to get a good shot.

But persistence paid off. Karen says: “I chased it into a patch of wildflowers and long grass, where it slowed down a bit”. She was then able to get a bunch of pictures, including one with its wings open.

Eastern Giant Swallowtails are uncommon in the Credit River Watershed, which is at the northern edge of its range and contains few of the host plants its larvae need – hop trees and prickly ash. However, there is some evidence that this species is becoming more common in northern areas. Perhaps sightings of this giant beauty will become a more frequent event.

Here are two short posts with more information about the Eastern Giant Swallowtail in our area:
https://hnpnc.com/site/giant-swallowtails-and-climate-change
https://www.inthehills.ca/2012/08/giant-swallowtail-butterflies/

Publicado por lltimms lltimms, 28 de junio de 2019

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