Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Butterflies on Thistles

I'm behind on posting but still wanted to put up these photos I took 10 days ago. Our back pasture was filled with thistles covered with many swallowtails (giant, spicebush, tiger), fritillaries and other butterflies. Talk about a butterfly garden!

Spicebush Swallowtail

The spicebush swallowtail is our most often seen butterfly, probably because we have a lot of spice bush, its host plant, in the woods.

Tiger Swallowtails

These butterflies are also quite common maybe because their host tree, yellow or tulip poplar, is in abundance.

Great Spangled Frittilary

I believe the thistle is a bull thistle, an alien plant.

Orchard Mason Bee

Bees also love the thistle. I saw bumble bees, orchard mason bees, and many smaller bees but no honey bees.

Thistles are not a flower I would want around my house because of the thorns. But I don't have a problem with letting them grow in the pasture for the insects.


  1. Your butterflies are gorgeous! I think I have been confusing the Black swallowtail and the Spicebush Swallowtail. I have seen fewer swallowtails this year than last.

  2. I love a good thistle patch! They bring butterflies like crazy. I'm a bit jealous of your giant swallowtail, though. I haven't seen a one on Roundtop this year.

    Carolyn H.

  3. Kerri--I think almost all of our black swallowtails are spicebush. The female looks quite a bit different from the male so I kept thinking I was looking at different species.

  4. Carolyn--the giant swallowtail isn't as numerous as the tiger or spicebush but has been here most of the summer.

  5. Saw your profile pic on another blog, since I started painting butterflies this year.
    Your pics of the caterpillars as well as the butterflies are stunning!

  6. ....your thistles are lovely and the butterflies are gorgeous. I've recently been taking a lot of photos of thistles as well. They are just too gorgeous to pass up.

  7. Bee u t full shots of the thistle and butterflies and bees..