Black Swallowtail Butterfly at Shark Valley
WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHY – SHARK VALLEY, FL
This is a photograph of a Black Swallowtail atop a dead frog. It was taken at Shark Valley in Florida. The Shark Valley Visitor Center is located on Highway 41 (Tamiami Trail / SW 8th St.) 25 miles west of the Florida Turnpike, exit 25A (from the north) and exit 25 (from the south). The trail is approximately 16 miles to complete the loop and is the shape of a key. Here you will observe various birds, racoons, deer, and the ever present alligator. The camera gear used was a Nikon D90 camera body with a Tamron 28-300mm lens. Note that this Black Swallowtail butterfly has landed on a dead frog.
The Black Swallowtail Butterfly (Papilio polyxenes) grows to about 3 inches. It is black above, with a median yellow band, which is larger on the males of this species, and yellow spots on the rear edges. Its hindwings have a tail with blue spots and which is larger on the female. Below, the hindwings have orange spots. The Black Swallowtail butterfly can be found in fields and gardens. Its food source includes members of the carrot family, along with Queen Anne’s Lace.
The black swallowtail mimics the bad tasting pipevine swallowtail, Battus philenor (Linnaeus), which is all metallic black-blue on the upper surface of the wings, lacking the yellow and blue markings. Winter is spent in the chrysalis (pupa) stage. Adults emerge in the spring and seek host plants. Females lay round, yellow to cream colored eggs on the leaves. Caterpillars hatching from eggs are initially black with a white saddle. After molting several times, each larvae transforms into a pale green chrysalis that is suspended from a plant stem by a thread.