Wednesday, October 2

Garden PIc Wednesday: Giant Swallowtail

Welcome back!
I have a great Picture of the Day for you/?! Every seen a Giant Swallowtail?
I got this shot of one a few days ago:

A Giant Swallowtail is one huge butterfly. Typically 4 to 6 inches in size with this
unusual bright yellow spot pattern. The lower wings have the little "tails" on them that give this
these butterflies their name. Also two little orange dot markings that seem common on
many Swallowtails.
I'm always interested in finding out what different butterflies eat to see if it's something I can add to my garden, since I do want a butterfly-friendly garden. Butterfly caterpillars are fairly gourmet and many only eat specific things, like Monarchs only eat Milkweed.

Now the Giant Swallowtail dines on citrus leaves and several other trees, but I have no room for trees. I did find, however, they and also Black Swallowtails enjoy an herb shrub called "Rue."
That I could do and I have the perfect location, though I won't be ready till spring to seek one out.
A Giant Swallowtail flutters as it rests on flowers, so to really get a good open-wing shot, I'd have to catch a newly hatched one drying it's wings like I did the Black Swallowtail. 
(My Black Swallowtail is featured on Sept in my new 2014 Critter Calender I'll feature in Friday Finds this week!)

My friend, Megan had porch-pots of Penta flowers and discovered huge 2 inch brown caterpillars as in this picture dining on them.. (The fake eyes are a defense to scare birds)  Turns out, this is a Tersa Sphinx Moth caterpillar and they like Penta flower leaves. Luckily Penta flowers are a major landscape plant around here, decorating every corner, boulevard and mall front, so there's no lack of food.
Sphinx Moths are often referred to as "Hummingbird Moths" or "Hawk Moths" as they are a large, heavy bodied nocturnal moth that flutter their wings really fast, like a hummingbird, as they move from flower to flower at dusk. On a glance, you wonder if it's a hummingbird, but on a second look you realize it's not.
The Tersa is a tawny brown moth.
Tersa Sphinx Moth
However, this is only one type. Sphinx Moths are entire family of moths with many different color variations.
I've decided not to plant any Penta's.

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