Eastern Tiger Swallowtail
No matter how many times I see this gorgeous butterfly it never fails me stop me in my tracks. It is as wide as my hand, outstretched, and on this day last month it was suspended in flight in the native garden at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. The way it flew seemed different from the anxious, restless hither and thither of the Black Swallowtails that have been visiting my terrace. It floated up as though it were a leaf lifted on a soft updraft, in slight puffs, then a suspension and a fall, then another puff upward.
I stood there all alone beneath it, in the middle of the huge borough of Brooklyn, bird calls all around, an occasional truck roar from the busy parkway on the other side of the berm, but immediately returned to peace by the resumed fluting of robins, cardinals, and unknown birds I have yet to see.
Eupatorium fistulosum (joe pye weed) grew feet above my own 6' head, bending over on its dark stems heavy with bloom. The butterflies were addicted to these. So were honey bees, which in their current scarcity were wonderful to see.
This is a lady Eastern Tiger Swallowtail: she has the blue. The male has only black. Ha! Perhaps she was more peaceful because she was only feeding, not looking for a safe place to lay her eggs. Perhaps that is what makes my Black Swallowtails so jittery. I don't think they think my parsley is good enough.
Plant some for your butterfly and bee garden...