Saturday morning I noticed a black swallowtail butterfly clinging to a weed in the middle of the driveway. Butterflies pretty much know what they're doing so I left it there, assuming it was doing some butterfly thing. Six hours later my husband came from the front yard to the back holding it in his hands. "It was on a weed in the driveway," he said.
Male black swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes) with deformed wing.
It turns out that one of the male butterfly's wings had not formed properly and so it couldn't fly. Dave tried setting it on a phlox where it immediately started feeding but then fell off. Whether this little guy damaged its wing by falling as his wings were drying or it was injured from disease is something we'll never know. As far as we could tell, it lived for a little more than 24 hours, as it disappeared from the bed we'd placed it in by the following day.
Flower bud on Franklinia alatamaha
I've been lax about caring for my garden lately. It happens every year around this time when few perennials are bursting into bloom. The section I see every evening before dark is aglow with Phlox 'David's Lavender', which I've been deadheading to keep it neat. And that's how I spotted them--buds on the Franklinia tree. I'm not bragging, but feel incredibly lucky that I'll see blooms on this tree, as it's pretty rare that anyone can keep this tree alive, let alone bloom. I'll keep you posted.