Sunday, May 13, 2012

Pipevine Swallowtails (Battus philenor) At Scull Shoals

The gravel road in the Scull Shoals Experimental Forest by dragonflies sunning themselves and butterflies sipping minerals from the gravel. Our encounters with them are often brief but, on this afternoon, we were treated to a 10-minute encounter between two Pipevine Swallotails (Battus philenor).

This one arrived first and set about drinking the minerals. It opened and closed its wings repeatedly, and then sat for a while with…

Its wings extended, soaking up the warmth. It’s interesting that the color and pattern on the wings appeared different from different angles. We could identify this butterfly because it had lost one of its tails.

After about five minutes, a second butterfly arrived, and began to…

interact with the first butterfly. Both are males; neither has the row of spots along the back edge of the forewing which is present in the female.

This second male had a more distinct pattern than the first and both of its tails were intact.

The second male began to follow the first.

The second male is still following the first and it’s impossible to tell them apart based on their patterns and colors. The only way to tell them apart was the fact that one had lost one of its tails. After a while…

The first male began to follow the second.

Then, as if square dancing, they sashayed for a few minutes before…

the first male flew away into the woods and left the second male alone. An interesting peaceful, social encounter.
Click on an image to view a closer image

Identification resources:

BugGuide: Battus philenor (Pipevine Swallowtail) [Male] [Female]
- Michael Beohm, West Central Georgia Butterflies:
Pipevine Swallowtails (Battus philenor)

Related posts:
- April: Butterfly Afternoons At Scull Shoals

- Pipevine Swallowtail (Battus philenor)

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