BomBom Butterflies Video

BomBom Butterflies ~ Featuring Black Swallowtail Butterflies and Common Milkweed at Good Harbor Beach

Scenes from my forthcoming film Life Story of the Black Swallowtail Butterfly set to “BomBom” by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, featuring the Teaching, from the album The Heist by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis.

When you have a moment, please watch my newest video. I have submitted it to a video contest sponsored by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis from their debut album The Heist. Macklemore and Ryan Lewis created the beautiful Same Love video that I posted about last week. If you like my video please share the link; I think the more clicks received, the more notice gained. The winner will be announced on April 8th.

BomBom Butterflies

Happy Easter! Happy Spring! Happy Passover! and

Happy Warm Weather! 

BomBom Butterflies ~ Featuring Black Swallowtails and Common Milkweed at Good Harbor Beach

Scenes from my forthcoming film Life Story of the Black Swallowtail Butterfly set to “BomBom” by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, featuring the Teaching, from the album The Heist by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis.

When you have a moment, please watch my newest video. I have submitted it to a video contest sponsored by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis from their debut album The Heist. Macklemore and Ryan Lewis created the beautiful Same Love video that I posted about last week. If you like my video please share the link; I think the more clicks received, the more notice gained. The winner will be announced on April 8th.

Thank you Kate for the Black Swallowtail Chrysalis!

Last week while filming on Eastern Point I had the pleasure to meet Kate, who works at Wolf Hill. She was with a friend and they were looking for butterflies through binoculars. I had seen Kate often at the garden center, but never stopped to chat. We were talking about all things butterfly when she mentioned that she had a Black Swallowtail caterpillar on a parsley plant back at the nursery office. She offered the caterpillar to me and I gladly accepted. My Black Swallowtail film is nearing completion but there was one missing piece to the story.

Black Swallowtail Chrysalis ~ Green Form

The swallowtail chrysalides that I had on film were all greenish gold. Oftentimes the Black Swallowtail chyrsalis will turn a woody brown, but no matter how hard I looked, I could not find a woody brown chrysalis. Not showing the brown form, I knew, would confuse viewers, especially families who are interested in raising swallowtails.

Kate’s caterpillar pupated while she was away from work for a few days. When she returned she found the chrysalis had wandered from the parsley plant and it had pupated on the razor thin edge of an envelope-as office caterpillars are want to do. Well, you guessed it–the Wolf Hill pupa was the brown form!

Black Swallowtail Chrysalis ~ Brown Form

I know it is said often on the pages of this blog, but Kate’s thoughfullness goes to show once again what a beautiful community is Gloucester–stunning visually, and most special of all, are the beautiful, kind-hearted people who call Gloucester home.  Thank you Kate!

Not finding a brown chrysalis is a relatively escoteric problem, to say the least, but I think you will agree that the two forms of the pupal case are remarkably different in appearance. In this photo you can see where I have taped the envelope behind a tree trunk in order to film. This is how you would find the chrysalis in a more natural setting.

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There are several openings  remaining in my Close-up Photography Workshop at the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University, which will be held this coming Sunday morning at 9:00 am. I would love to see you there! Follow this link to register.

Capturing a sharply in focus close-up of a butterfly, especially one in mid-flight, is one of the greatest challenges of photography and I will be revealing techniques such as these, and more; techniques that have taken many, many hours over many years to perfect. All the photos I have shot in the past year and a half were taken not with a zoom lens, but were shot with a 23mm prime lens. I am typically photographing within a foot’s distance of the butterflies!

Fujifilm X series cameras pose their own set of challenges, especially when shooting close-up. Fujifilm X series owner’s especially may find this class helpful.

Giant Swallowtail Photos from FOB Sarah Gershaw

Several days ago we posted about the local Giant Swallowtail Butterfly sightings. GMG reader and Wenham resident Sarah Gershaw reported she spotted a Giant Swallowtail in her garden that very day. She’s sent in her terrific photos. Thank you Sarah for sharing!

Giant Swallowtail Butterfly (Papilio cresphontes)

All Photos Courtesy Sarah Gershaw

Giant Swallowtail Butterfly Alert!!!

Last week the Giant Swallowtail butterfly visited our garden for a brief moment. I ran indoors to get my camera but it had departed by the time I returned. This morning my my friend John, who lives across from Folly Cove, emailed to say he too has spotted a Giant Swallowtail. John and I correspond regularly about butterfly sightings–I love to hear about what he is seeing on the other side of the island– and this is the first time both he and I have observed Giant Swallowtails in our gardens.

Giant Swallowtail Butterfly (Papilio cresphontes)

Photo Courtesy Marti Warren

One of my readers, Marti Warren, wrote in on Monday that she spotted a Giant Swallowtail Butterfly last week in her garden in Amherst, New Hampshire. 

From my favorite butterfly book, Butterflies of the East Coast by Cech and Tudor, “Although they are not regular migrants, Giant Swallowtails have appeared with some consistency as vagrants in the North, and occasionally form colonies.”
On the range map provided in the above book, the northern border of Massachusetts is at the end of the Giant Swallowtails range so I think it is fairly unusual to see one in central New Hampshire.

Male Black Swallowtail Butterfly (Papilo polyxenes)

Three easy ways to know whether you are seeing the more common male Black Swallowtail or the Giant Swallowtail.

1) The wingspan of the male Black Swallowtail is approximately 3.2 inches; the Giant Swallowtail’s wingspan nearly five inches.

2) Both the male and female Giant Swallowtails have a band of yellow spots that converge near the apex.

3) Additionally the only blue irredescence on the Giant Swallowtail is a semi-circular “eyebrow” over the orange and black eyespots.

Let us know if you think you have seen a Giant Swallowtail in your garden recently. If you have a photo, even better!

Butterfly Gardening with Eloise and Madeline

Madeline and Eloise

Last summer the Ciaramitaro girls stopped by our garden to see a newly emerged Monarch butterfly.  After releasing the butterfly, Eloise wanted to learn more about the Monarchs, and butterflies in general. This year she remembered from their visit the previous year that the Monarch caterpillar food plant is milkweed. Eloise, who I am convinced is a budding naturalist and artist, is an avid gardener (just ask her about her vegetable patch!), so I promised her milkweed plants. We scouted out a sunny a corner of the family’s yard and, after mom Jill helped dig up the sod, we planted a petite butterfly garden, with Common Milkweed for the Monarchs, parsley and fennel for the Black Swallowtails, and marigolds to attract the nectaring insects. We’re looking forward to their first butterfly sightings!

Eloise

Life Story of the Black Swallowtail Trailer

Dear Friends,

You’ve heard me talking about my butterfly film (for Months!). I began filming the black swallowtails last July and am only now close to finishing.  I am so excited to share this project with you and hope you enjoy the trailer.

My daughter Liv and friend Kathleen Adams collaborated on a beautiful rendition of “Simple Gifts.” The music in the background is an improv interlude from their recording session.

Coming soon: Documentary about the Life Story of the Black Swallowtail Butterfly, from egg, to caterpillar, to chryrsalis, to adult. Filmed in a garden and along the seashore, Gloucester, Massachusetts. Featuring the black swallowtail butterfly, wildflowers, pollinators, the sun, the garden, and more.

Life Story of the Black Swallowtail Butterfly

Coming Soon: Life Story of the Black Swallowtail Butterfly tells the story of the ubiquitous and stunning Black Swallowtail butterfly.

My new documentary film captures the beauty and mystery of the Black Swallowtail, through all its life stages, and in it’s surrounding habitats. I think you will be amazed and captivated by this garden-variety and seemingly ordinary, extraordinary butterfly!

From Egg to Caterpillar to Chrysalis to Adult

Black Swallowtail Eggs 

Black Swallowtail Caterpillar Everting Osmeterium

Black Swallowtail Emerging from Chrysalis

Female Black Swallowtail

Filmed on Cape Ann. Click photos to see full-size images.

One of several preferred Black Swallowtail habitats—Gloucester’s sandy wildflower meadow at Good Harbor Beach. The milkweed provides nectar for swallowtails on the wing and Queen Anne’s lace is a food plant of the Black Swallowtail caterpillars.