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Swallowtail on the Chocolate Trail

Swallowtail from the Chocolate TrailButterflies are one insect most folks like to admire.  This Giant Swallowtail image is one of two butterflies featured in the Magale library art exhibit at Centenary College of Louisiana.  The exhibit runs from June 1, 2012 through the end of August during regular library hours.  The exhibit is sponsored by the Friends of Red River National Wildlife Refuge.  The Friends Group is a non-profit organization devoted to helping the Refuge.  One way to help is through public awareness, such as this photo exhibit featuring images taken on the Refuge.
Butterflies come in many shapes and sizes.  Some species can be found throughout the year.  On the cool winter days, if the sun is shining you might find a Buckeye along the rock road or one of the river trails.  Other often overlooked butterflies include several small sulphur species, tiny hairstreaks and blues, satyrs and skippers.  Medium sized butterflies that are found on the Refuge include the fritillaries, checkerspots and crescents.  The brushfoots include many familiar and colorful species, including the admirals, question marks, monarchs and buckeyes.  The largest butterflies are the swallowtails.  Several species may be found on the Refuge at various times during the year.
The image featured in this post is the Giant Swallowtail.  They are very graceful fliers, gently flapping their wings as they move from plant to plant in search of nectar.  Swallowtails can look very similar on the fly.  The Giant Swallowtail has large yellow spots in its “tail”.
I considered something like Alien Probe for the title of this image.  If you look carefully, you’ll see the antennae on top and another appendage that is probing the flowers.  This is called the probiscus, and is like a long straw used to capture the nectar.  The Chocolate Trail part of the title is where the image was taken and is also a name I’ve affectionally given to one of the back trails at Headquarters Unit.  The trail sign is a dark brown color, hence chocolate trail.  It can be a very productive area for photographing wildlife, including butterflies.  If the river is up, the trail may be flooded since water backfills into the lake and crosses the trail.  This image was taken in May of 2011.  The trail was high and dry throughout the summer and even through the winter months until the recent rains have raised the river considerably and brought some much needed water back into the lake.
I like this image because it is colorful and the Giant Swallowtails are very photogenic.  The gallery image has a black frame with a double black matt that really brings out the Giant Swallowtail’s colors.

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