Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Sunday, October 08, 2006

The Nature of Macleay's Swallowtail Butterflies

Macleay's Swallowtail
Upper view of wings
White and green butterflies are fluttering all around Robertson at present.

These lovely creatures are the Macleay’s Swallowtail Butterfly.

Green and fawn underwings
Note the fat body, much
larger than other butterflies
of similar wing size
They were fluttering around a lovely Mintbush (Prostanthera incisa) in the warm sunshine we experienced on Saturday.

What a lovely creature it is. Incidentally, it has quite a substantial body – larger than many similar sized butterflies, such as the Caper White Butterfly.

Butterfly in flight
I love the aromatic Mint Bushes (Prostanthera family).

Clearly this Butterfly loved the aroma of the plant too. The Butterfly just kept on flying around the plant, round and round, settling for a millisecond, to suck some nectar from the Mint Bush flowers, then off again, to do the same again. If it is there tomorrow, I shall experiment with a faster speed setting on my camera, to try and “freeze” its wings.

Mint Bush

This plant is deliberately planted beside the path to my front door. In fact it is deliberately planted too close to the path, so that one has to brush past it to enter the house – thus getting engulfed in its spicy, sweet aroma.

Sassafras - food plant
for this butterfly

Of the plants listed as being known food plants for the caterpillar of this species, the Sassafras is the only species which commonly grows in Robertson. So, the local members of this species would be Sassafras specialists. Well, there is no shortage of food trees for them, in Robertson, I am pleased to say. This is a photo of a late flowering Sassafras, taken on 21 September. Most Sassafras trees had finished several weeks before that.

Their flowers are sweetly perfumed, and may be smelt on a warm breeze in early spring.

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