Close Shave on Jupiter's Beard
The Western tiger swallowtail (Papilio rutulus) is the kind of butterfly that combines steel with silk.
It's a tough critter. Often you'll see it with its wings clipped by a predator--maybe a bird or a praying mantis.
Then when you see it glide around, landing on Jupiter's beard, it's the epitome of grace.
The magnificent butterfly is found throughout much of western North America, from British Columbia to North Dakota in the north to Baja California and New Mexico in the south. We've seen it nectaring not only on Jacob's beard, but zinnias, Mexican sunflower (Tithonia), California buckeye but thistles, too.
Kite makers, dress makers and tattoo artists mimic this colorful yellow-winged butterfly with its bold black stripes and ll orange and blue spots on its swallow tail.
This one favored Jupiter's beard on Gates Canyon Road, Vacaville, but if you look closely you'll see that a predator tried to give it a clean shave.
Western tiger swallowtail, Papilio rutulus, glides on Jupiter's beard, Centranthus ruber. This one is missing part of its wing structure, no thanks to a predator. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
The Western tiger swallowtail swoops down for a little nectar on Jupiter's beard. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Western tiger swallowtail sipping nectar from Jupiter's beard. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)