Spicebush swallowtail a nervous butterfly
The butterfly I have photographed here is a spicebush swallowtail feeding on a buttonbush bloom.
It is native to the eastern United States and belongs to a large family of butterflies known as black swallowtails.
Spicebush swallowtails are most often seen in wooded swampy areas where there is shade and water. These butterflies usually fly close to the ground preferring not to go high into the trees where they would be targets for predatory birds.
Groups of spicebush swallowtails will sometimes form on muddy or sandy banks near water where they apparently are drawing water to drink. Spicebush swallowtail butterflies seem to be nervous insects. Even while feeding or drinking their wings continue to flutter.
Predators of this beautiful butterfly include spiders, songbirds, bullfrogs and large dragonflies.
Spicebush swallowtail butterflies do not migrate like monarch butterflies.
Through the Woods is a weekly nature photo column by Aaron Horrell. Find this column at semissourian.com to order a reprint of the photo. Find more work by him at The Painted Wren Art Gallery, 5H N. Main St.