Nature: Butterflies and Moths

Zebra Swallowtail 斑马燕尾蝶 (Family Papilionidae, Swallowtails)

All over the east, the zebra swallowtail wings its way from blossom to blossom. It is a lover of gardens where it has the habit of lighting on some beautiful flower, then suddenly lifting up and cover a garden wall just as you think you are going to catch it. The strong wings marked indeed like a black and white zebra, but with two red spots like bright rubies near the tail end, carry the butterfly effortlessly clear to the tree-tops.

During the winter the dark brown chrysalids lie in a death-like sleep, hidden in cracks in the bark and similar places, but, at the first warm touch of early spring, small and stunted April zebras begin to emerge from these hiding places like flying flowers, going into hiding again when rain or cold comes. Soon the females begin to search for the large leaves of the Paw-Paw bushes along streams or the edges of woods and there lay their eggs. The eggs turn into beautiful pea-green caterpillars with black and yellow crossbands, including a wide black band across the humpback. Alas, these pretty creatures are cannibals, the stronger attacking and eating the weaker whenever they meet! But enough survive to produce the green chrysalids, marked with fine golden lines, from which come the larger zebra swallowtails of mid-summer, true dancers in the warm sunshine and seekers of nectar wherever flowers lure them.

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