Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A Western Butterfly

The Western Swallowtail butterfly is found from British Columbia to northern Baja and all the way east to North Dakota. Often mistaken for monarchs, they're actually yellow with black stripes, not orange like the monarchs. They have distictive orange and blue spots near their tails and are one of the largest butterflies.

They frequent rural woodlands and suburban gardens, but prefer moist canyons. As caterpillars, they are especially partial to California sycamores, cottonwoods, alders and willows, all deciduous trees that grow in riparian habitats. They will alight at the edge of streams to sip water. You can attract these beauties to your garden by planting salvia, penstemon, zinnias and thistles.

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