Three Tiger Swallowtails

Scientific-Poet Looks at Butterflies


of delicate structure
and ethereal flight
flitting aimlessly for
mate or some nectar


the family name
Lepidoptera
from two Greek words
lepi – scale, ptera – wing


siphoning mouthparts
coiled like a watchspring
under the head
until it’s needed


unfurls into tube
called a proboscis
probes deep into flowers
searching for nectar


thread-like antennae
long and slender
knobbed or hooked
at their tips


narrow extensions
on the hindwings
which resemble
forked tails of swallows


two pairs of wings
covered like roof shingles
with thousands of scales
overlapping and minuscule


pigments in scales
and structure of prisms
bends white light
to produce iridescence


intricate patterns
refracting the light
kaleidoscope of color
crown jewels of insect world


courtship involves
stroking of wings
mating may last for hours
often occurs during flight


courtship and mating
egg-laying and pollinating
life-span is short
some live only two to three weeks


egg, larva, pupa, adult
caterpillar to chrysalis
hidden transformation
the miracle of metamorphosis

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail  (Papilio glaucus)

Photo Location:  Harbor Springs, (Harbor Springs) Michigan

References:

The Practical Entomologist – (Entomologist) Rick Imes  c 1992

The Handy Bug Answer Book –  (Answer Book) Dr. Gilbert Waldbauer c 1998








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