Landscape design (and design in general) requires an ability to crisscross disiplines and subjects. This is doubly true for designing sustainable gardens and residential yards. You need to know about ecology, botany, hardscaping, plant care, stone, decks and insects such as the monarch butterfly.
A few days ago, I was at a friend/clients backyard and saw what I thought was a monarch butterfly sitting on a milkweed we planted this year. I took a picture of it and posted in on my facebook and instagram page. About an hour later, my neighbor commented that I had misidentified the butterfly.
At first, I thought it impossible! Me? Confuse a butterfly species? With a little research, I discovered that yes indeed I had mistaken the winged creature. What I had thought was a monarch was actually an Eastern tiger swallowtail (see image below). To be more exact, it was a male Eastern tiger swallowtail. Sadly, I am not a know-it-all! My entomology isn’t as strong as I'd like…and my lepidopterology needs work too. This is what I love about social networks and design. I get on the job training….even if it’s a bit embarrassing being corrected on my facebook page.
So, I thought I’d help you never confuse the two species as I had:
Both species eat milkweed, but the tiger swallowtail has a more diverse menu of foods. The monarch uses milkweed exclusively. If you want to help save the monarch plant milkweed! Whether your garden is visited by tiger swallowtails or monarchs, you’ll enjoy watching them flutter about.