Wednesday, April 18, 2012
This western tiger swallowtail (Papilio rutulus) wanted to be on the internet too, so I yielded and with the last post have now posted photos of the three common large butterflies in the garden at this point. Papilo rutulus needs willows (we have several different species) and alder (we have none) as host plants.
This individual is missing the central portion of its tail, which would have had a patch of brilliant red amid spots of irridescent blue, as well as the lower extensions of each wing. This pattern is read by many birds as eyes and antennae, leading them to confuse tail with head and end up munching on a bit of membrane instead of the body of the butterfly.