Hello Friends and Family,

Link to this year's index by clicking here.

Desert Botanical Garden, Part 2

Continuing our tour through the Butterfly House, here is a common Buckeye butterfly. They have large eye-spots which tend to deter predators.

Next up is a Zebra Longwing, native to Central and South America but also found in the Southern United States. During the warmer months, they may migrate farther north.

This photo shows a White Peacock butterfly with a similar range to the Zebra Longwing.

The male White Peacocks tend to be very territorial. So this gathering must either be females or else males pushing and shoving their rivals.

Another Common Buckeye feeding. Interestingly, they favor plants that produce iridoid glycosides. Potential predators such as ants, wasps, birds, and small animals prefer to feed on iridoid glycoside poor caterpillars — another weapon in the battle for species survival.

The wing pattern of the Zebra Longwing makes me think of a formal tuxedo. The true story is that the boldly striped black and white wing pattern is aposematic, warning off predators.

And next up is a striking Gulf Fritillary, one of my favorites. In their battle for survival, they release odorous chemicals in response to predator sightings. As a result, common predators learn to avoid this species.

This Giant Swallowtail is getting pretty ragged. In fact, this was in the best shape of all the ones I spotted. It is the largest butterfly in North America. The markings on the wings are thought to resemble bird droppings, giving them a bit of camouflage against predators.

Here we see a lovely Pipevine Swallowtail, native to North and Central America. The caterpillars consume compatible plants of the genus Aristolochia. They are known for sequestering acids from the plants they feed on in order to defend themselves from predators by being poisonous when consumed.

Time to move on but I did want to share a photo of the new, larger Butterfly House. The Desert Botanical Gardens normally has butterflies on display in the spring and autumn months. If you live in the Phoenix area or are visiting during one of those times, do schedule a visit — it is quite delightful.

Returning to the main part of the garden, I spotted a bird sitting atop a saguaro cactus. I assumed it was a Cactus Wren but when I looked closely, it has a different color pattern on its feathers and the beak is longer and more curved. Searching online for a hint, I concluded it is probably a Curved Bill Thrasher. If anyone knows for sure, please let me know and I'll update this description online. I really like this back-lit shot but it did make bird identification that much more difficult.

To be continued...

Life is good.

B. David

P. S., All photos and text © B. David Cathell Photography, Inc. — www.bdavidcathell.com