Jerry Owens from Van Buren, AR, captured this stunning beauty at Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge south of Vian using a Pentax K-5 at 260 mm. The range of Zebra Swallowtails (Protographium marcellus) just barely includes the eastern fringe of Oklahoma, so it’s not a butterfly that a lot of Okies get to see routinely. Thanks to Jerry for sharing this beauty. Click on photos to enlarge.
Zebra Swallowtails are easily identified in the Sooner state because there is no other species that resembles them. They are closely associated with pawpaw trees and are seldom seen far from them. If you are in the far eastern part of the state and can find some pawpaw trees, odds are good you can find these butterflies.
The green and black caterpillars of this butterfly feed on the leaves various pawpaw species and are also cannibalistic. The adults feed on flower nectar and minerals from damp soil. Looks like that is what the one in the pic is doing on the ground. You can see more of Jerry’s nature photography on his flickr stream at http://www.flickr.com/photos/jerrysphotographs/with/7262655144/ . For more information on Seqoyah National Wildlife Refuge visit http://www.fws.gov/refuges/profiles/index.cfm?id=21640 .
I hope everyone is enjoying the long Memorial Day weekend and also taking time to smell the roses. To share unusual or interesting things in the Oklahoma landscape email them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org .