Zebra Swallowtail Butterflies Grace Missouri Woodlands

Mar 19, 2017

Step outside this week and discover nature as zebra swallowtail butterflies emerge and grace our woodland areas.

When searching for inspiration, many famous writers step outside to discover nature and write down their finds. Joseph Warton described the butterfly as “Nature’s completest miniature divine.” It’s easy to imagine him strolling through a wooded area before he wrote his Verses on a Butterfly.

Robert Frost described butterflies as “flowers that fly and all but sing” in his poem, "Blue-Butterfly Day."

According to Victor Hugo’s "Genesis of a Butterfly" they are like torn love-letters that through the skies, "Flutter, and float, and change to butterflies."

No other creature has inspired so many admiring verses as the butterfly. Perhaps you can find inspiration watching the zebra swallowtails emerge this week from our wooded areas.

The zebra swallowtail is named for its distinctive black and white striped pattern which imitates a zebra. However, this butterfly also displays small red and blue markings on the bottom corners of both two and a half to four inch wings.

If you’d like to host these flitting beauties in your yard, plant some paw paw, spice bush or tulip tree to for caterpillars to attach to or raise some nectar bearing plants for butterfly feeding.  Blackberry, blueberry, dogbane, lilac, and milkweed are among their favorites.

Though Emily Dickinson wrote "the butterfly doesn’t know its name and hasn’t any tax to pay and hasn’t any home," in her poem “The Butterfly upon the Sky”, you can use these tips to tempt them to visit and return to sip the nectars and enjoy the blooms in your yard.

To keep track of current natural events like when to watch for the emergence of zebra swallowtail butterflies, you can get your own Natural Events Calendar from the Missouri Department of Conservation.