Rarely is my camera in hand when the butterflies are noticed. They flit here and there while I'm working in the garden and my part is to enjoy their presence, to watch their flights and their landings, to marvel at their design, to be very happy they've chosen to visit my garden.
It's not uncommon for me to stop what I'm doing and just ooohh and ahhh over them and just admire their graceful ways.
When the grand children are out in the garden with me they get just as excited. If they spot one first it is with glee in their voices they make the announcement, "butterfly." They are learning to identify and treasure them at an early age.
The monarch on the pretty pink zinnia happened to fly-in while I was photographing another plant next to the flower. So for this time it was a simple turn and focus and of course cooperation from the dear butterfly.
The less than stellar photo above is case in point when I had to make a mad dash to the camera and back. Hopeful to capture just one of several Black Swallowtails that were dropping eggs all over the three huge parsley plants that sit at the feet of the tomatoes over in the vegetable garden. That was on June 23.
On June 28 little dark spots that appeared to be so many bird droppings, first seen in my periphery vision, caught my attention. Closer inspection revealed dozens of caterpillars in the first larval stages. They were covering the tops of the plants.
A sight so intriguing I plopped down on the nearby pathway and just watched for a time.
...Young caterpillars in every stage (notice the teeny one in the upper right hand corner) sharing the same plant and resolutely chomping away at every available leafy green stem.
The host plants for Black Swallowtail, Papilio polyxenes asterius, are in the Carrot or Umbellifer Family (Apiaceae). They are especially fond of parsley and seem to prefer the curly parsley over the flat-leaved Italian variety... according to my handy Florida Butterfly Garden Guide.
You didn't think I knew all that stuff off the top of my head now did you? But, hey, I do keep my guide close by for referencing appropriate host and nectar plants. And attempts are being made to learn what is needed to increase our host supply for the pretty little critters.
Further down the row of parsley plants there is plenty more of the very same activity. This one home to another last stage caterpillar.
I've yet to find a chrysallis. But I've heard (and read) that many times the caterpillars crawl to an entirely different site other than the host in order to form the chrysallis.
These eyes are on the look out... surely with all this activity it's likely I'll get to see one.
Soon, we should be making birth announcements wouldn't you think?