Thursday, May 26, 2016

Which Is It?


This lovely visitor to my flowers set me wondering -- is this a Spicebush Swallowtail or a Black Swallowtail? 


                    Or are there two names for one butterfly?


Fortunately my friend Mr. Google was there, helpful as always.


There are, indeed, two different mostly black swallowtails. And they look an awful lot alike. The Spicebush is larger . . . but that's not a lot of help when there's no Black to compare it with.


Definitive indentification come from a look at the underwing -- Spice (Papilio troilus) has a 'comet' while Black (Papilio polyxenes) has an eye spot.


My pictures don't show the underwing as clearly as I'd like but I think I've identified my visitor. If you'd like to have a go at it, the information on the identifying marks is HERE.. 


And here's a closeup of the relevant area of the underwing. Alas, something has taken a bite out of the tip where the eye spot is (or is not) but isn't that a comet?


As is so often true in this life of ours, it's the little things that make a difference. . .


6 comments:

Ms. A said...

Lovely!

Anvilcloud said...

I'm on my iPad, so I had to look large, but what a thorough shoot.

Frances said...

What a beautiful visitor has been drawn to your flowers. I have no idea which butterfly is it, only that its wings are fabulous. And so are those flowers. xo

Jim Egerton said...

I vote for the comet one. Lovely shots of the butterfly. Birds are so difficult to ID. Must be 10 kinds of sparrows,but that is what makes it fun.

Vicki Lane said...

I knew I could never be a serious birder when I came to the pages in the bird field guide labeled Confusing Fall Warblers.

Carolyn said...

Hmm, I'm confused. I called these Pipevine Swallowtails. I just looked them up and they're also called Blue Swallowtails. Confusing, and I thought I could identify maybe two or three butterflies, now I'm not sure. We have plenty of pipevine, so ours may well be pipevine swallowtails.