Pollinators :: Limonera Chica - the Broadwinged Swallowtail

in #gardening8 months ago

In our garden there are several species of butterflies that visit the flower section. With time and with the help of a butterfly identification book I have come to recognize the different species that live amongst us like the Broad-banded Swallowtail Heraclides astyalus – in Spanish la Limonera Chica, a fairly common insect on the farm where we live but I have never been able to see one so close up.

limonera front
limonera back

Normally this butterfly is in constant motion with always fluttering wings. But this particular morning was colder than normal and I was able to snap a few pictures while the butterfly was resting. This was certainly not the first time trying to take a picture of this swallowtail. Most attempts result in blurred picture like this:

limoner in action

Limonera chica is so named because their host plants are various types of citrus trees including lemon trees. A host plant is the plant species on which the adult female butterflies lays her eggs. The host plants, in this case citrus trees, are the food on which the butterfly catepilars feed on until adulthood. Here on the farm where we live in Central Argentina there are a few different orange trees and some lemon trees as well. This swallowtail is also commonly spotted on lantana plants which are numerous in and around the garden where this picture was taken.

According to a little research Heraclidea astyalus is found throughout all of Central & South America which are generally called the ‘Neotropics’. Our particular area is not exactly tropical, our climate is generally called the ‘neotropic temperate forest’ and more specifically ‘bosque espinal” which roughly translates to ‘spinney forest’ due to all the thorn native trees and bushes that cover much of the wildlands like algorobo (mesquite) and espinillo. But we also have butterfly visitors from colder climates of the south & tropical climates up north (heading towards the equator & Amazonia). I feel so lucky to live in this inbetween climate and to witness all the diversity of this area!

So, this Broad-banded Swallowtail and the other insects of this region & continent motivate me to continue planting for pollinator and to document my findings here. My encounter with this butterfly lasted a few minutes before the Limonera hopped over to another part of the garden onto a lemon balm plant and allowed me to snap a few pictures before flying away:

limonera about to fly away


That's a really lovely butterfly. Nice informative easy to read post about this lovely insect.

Thank you!! They really are lovely - - what butterflies do you have in your garden?

Last year we had monarchs, swallowtails, little sulfur ones, and always the white cabbage ones. I forget if I saw any others...