Historic Birch Lodge

Historic Birch Lodge
Historic Birch Lodge, Trout Lake, MI

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Birches, Beaches and Butterflies

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Earlier this week we had temperatures in the mid-80's and sun.

Apparently, this was what Yellow Swallowtail Butterflies were waiting for--they appeared in droves!

Why so many? Aside from identifying them, I had never bothered to read up about them before.

Well, as it turns out, the Yellow Swallowtail has as one of it's preferred host species the birch tree!

They are primarily a tree top species, and lay their eggs on birch.

I have never seen their caterpillars before, but will watch for them this year. The adults prefer pink or red nectar flowers including milkweed and bee balm.

When we walked on the beach, they formed a band of yellow along the wave line. We thought they were after the moisture.

We found out that the young males, in particular, draw sodium and potassium as well as amino acids from the moisture to complete their development.

When one finds a good spot, others will be attracted too in a behavior called "puddling". We were able to watch some clusters form as the butterflies fluttered all about us.

They will also draw nutrients from other less seemly substances such as human perspiration, carrion and animal droppings.

I guess the moral of the story is don't be so flattered if a butterfly lands on you-- you probably just need to take a shower!

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