Monday, October 3, 2011

Capture of the Elusive Red-bodied Swallowtail

Hey ya'll

I did it!!! I can't believe I finally did it!!! Observe a butterfly, a swallowtail butterfly no less (they are one of my favorites) as it flutters about, its wings leveled out so that they form a straight line, 180 degrees, from one end to another. It looked like an airplane, somewhat, if airplanes were about three inches in length and flew low to the ground and hovered about like a miniature helicopter, trying to find the right puddle in which to land. Not too deep, I imagine, and but not one too shallow as well as there would possibly less of that nourishing salt to suck up! It was a common rose butterfly and, though not exceptionally rare unto itself, was a butterfly I am not accustomed to seeing around these parts in all my years collecting here. The common rose butterfly (Pachliopta Aristolochiae) is one species which I have been on constant lookout around these parts for some good four to five months now. In that entire span of time I have seen the butterfly on up to four separate occasions which, in turn has led me to posit that it is perhaps possible that the species did not just "wander" here by accident, but rather have a breeding site somewhere close by. Indeed though I have coveted this beautiful red-bodied butterfly for quite sometime I have never yet been able to catch myself a specimen as it continues to elude me so - either flying too high up, or over the canopy bridge just out of reach. Once, I found one as it alighted to drink salts from a puddle on one of the roads but discovered to my consternation that I had left my net and cage in the car. It seems though, that luck was finally on my side, and I chanced upon the butterfly again (this would be the fifth time in five months) lapping up salts on the pavement by a brick wall.

Common rose swallowtail (pachliopta aristolochiae)

As you can see, I was quite fortunate this time!!! Now I can add this one to my modest collection of three Common Rose swallowtails (each from different locations)! I was so triumphant at my catch I even went to Popular to purchase a new styro-foam board for spreading, tracing paper to hold the wings down, and a new set of pins!

Oh yeah, and since I was already out and about with my cage and net, I figured I might as well hang around and hunt for more butterflies. It was quite rewarding and (together with one crow and one tiger butterfly... Oh I'll identify them later!) I managed to net three Red Helens (Papilio helenus)

Red Helen (underside showing red spots) Papilio helenus

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