Pipevine dreams

One of my favorite local butterflies is the Pipevine Swallowtail (Battus philenor). Here’s a photo of one that we raised a few years ago. Strikingly dramatic, it has black wings fringed with large white spots.

Pipevine Swallowtail butterflyThe underside is equally as exciting — I like Wikipedia’s description: “The underside of the hind wing has seven orange submarginal spots surrounded by iridescent blue.”

Pipevine swallowtail butterfly

Its host plant in our area is the Pipevine (Aristolochia), also known as Dutchman’s Pipe. Once you see it you’ll understand the name:

Dutchman's pipe

We’ve been growing pipevine in a few spots in our garden for several years, but haven’t yet been lucky enough to attract a butterfly to lay eggs on any of them. The vine in the front garden put out a profusion of pipes last week. This photo shows one string of them – there are many more pipes zigzagging up the tree that the vine is twined around.

Pipevine plant

The plants need to get really large to attract the female to lay eggs. We have raised caterpillars from eggs that we rescued, and they ate the pipevine leaves voraciously. We had to forage to find them enough to eat!

This is an “artsy” piece I made from my photo of a Pipevine Swallowtail on a buddleia flower.

Pipevine swallowtail butterflySo this year we’re having pipevine dreams that a butterfly will visit our garden and lay some eggs. If you see one, please send her our way!

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4 comments on “Pipevine dreams

  1. Holle says:

    Beautiful butterfly and composition and I LOVE the Pipevine!
    Dream on sister! I’ll keep a biuuterfly eye out,
    Aloha,
    Holle

  2. Gilbert says:

    Thanks for the beautiful pictures, Heidi – really lifted my spirits over here on the rainy East Coast.

  3. Nicole says:

    Hi, I found your blog on the internet. We found a pipevine caterpillar today. I have been looking for the pipevine plant all day without success. Not one nursery has it. We are located in El Sobrante and would love to drop off the caterpillar with you or maybe borrow some leaves for him. Let me know asap. I don’t know how long they live without food.

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