Friday, February 11, 2011

"In The Waiting Line" Operation Fill-A-Frame #6
Operation Fill-A-Frame #6 is complete! This one is very similar to #5 and thus has the same title (with a 2 at the end). "In The Waiting Line 2" is another butterfly and caterpillar study, this time featuring the Tiger Swallowtail, also known as the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail.

Just like the Monarch "In The Waiting Line 1", the mat of this picture is outside of the glass, not under it. (It feels like a hard wood or plastic and is painted.) The two drawings are on a single sheet of Canson Recycled Bristol art paper, and the drawing was created with ink and my Forest Choice colored pencils.

This was another quick one, and thus, is a cheap one! $25 for this framed original drawing in my Etsy shop- you can see the listing here :)

Man, oh man, did I learn a LOT while researching this piece.

First of all, let's talk about this caterpillar.
Years and years ago I painted a swallowtail caterpillar- does this guy look familiar?

He is, indeed, a swallowtail caterpillar. When I took the original photo of him and looked him up, that's what I learned. It made sense because the year I found him, our yard was covered in yellow tiger swallowtail butterflies.
It turns out, he's NOT the caterpillar of the tiger swallowtail. Nope. (It's very easy to get confused because if you do a Google image search for Tiger Swallowtail Caterpillar, just "swallowtail caterpillar" is included in the search and pictures of those guys come up!)

He is the caterpillar of the Black Swallowtail butterfly, seen here:

Photo by Derek Ramsey (Ram-Man)
So if those caterpillars weren't from the tiger swallowtail, then where did all those butterflies come from? And why were they staying??

Answer- because their host plant is (....drumroll....) the Tulip Tree! Well, that is one of their host plants (this should look familiar, too!) Our house was surrounded on all sides by Liriodendrons (I also learned the Tulip Tree has a bunch of different names!)  :)
And their caterpillars look way, way, way different than the guy above that I painted! What's very interesting is the variation in the caterpillars themselves. I was looking all over the web for clarification of the different caterpillars and didn't understand why so many different looking ones were all tagged as the tiger swallowtail.

Some are bright neon green. Some are brown. Some are multicolored. This is due to the different instars of the caterpillar. Each time the caterpillar sheds its skin, it looks slightly different. This happens to a lot of caterpillars, but this one seems quite dramatic to me.

Imagine my world being turned upside down upon finding out this whole time I've been telling people this caterpillar grows into the wrong butterfly!  (Sorry!)

Imagine my confusion when I found out that all male tiger swallowtail butterflies are yellow and black, but only some of the females are yellow and black. The rest are just plain black! (There is also a rare morph of the two.)
See great pictures and the explanation here:
Eventually I'll learn the differences.... but in my confusion and endless searching for which butterfly was which, I found out there are Black Swallowtails, Black Tiger Swallowtails, Spicebush Swallowtails, and Pipevine Swallowtails



Doris Sturm said...

I just love your paintings and the butterflies are so beautiful. I've yet to go to Callaway Gardens in northern GA to see their butterfly exhibits.

Samantha G said...

Thank you, Doris! I have been on somewhat of a butterfly kick with the frames I'm filling up. There are just so many beautiful butterflies and almost as soon as I'm done with one, I already know which one I want to paint next!