Tigers on the Wind: A Swallowtail Soirée

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

The Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus) is one of the most elegant butterfly species that flutters above the meadows and flower gardens of Oakland County. They are not as much of a “media-hog” as our milkweed loving monarch butterflies, nor do they undertake long border crossing migrations, but as for their visibility in these waning days of August—the beautiful swallowtails win hands down.

Don’t get me wrong. I like monarchs and often attend our local monarch butterfly festivals, but our “tigers on the wind,” the eastern tiger swallowtails, barely get a public notice even with their nearly five-inch wing spans. Perhaps they should, for they are appearing in the urban areas of Novi, Pontiac, Royal Oak and Rochester, and as to be expected they are fluttering about rural fields and the wide open spaces of our Huron-Clinton Metro Parks, Oakland County Parks, and the expansive State Recreation Areas managed by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. It’s almost impossible to hike or bike down the Paint Creek, Polly Ann or Clinton River Trails on a sunny day without taking note of their mesmerizing appearance on trailside wildflowers. With those thoughts in mind, and no disrespect meant to the monarch lovers (count me among them) here’s a snapshot salute to the swallowtails, for in the world of nature all things are connected. Continue reading

Milkweed Bugs of October Meadows

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

October is the season of the Large Milkweed Bug (Oncopeltus fasciatus), a colorful but lesser known bug of Oakland County’s milkweed-rich meadows, fields and trailsides. They are spectacularly beautiful creatures that lure the attention of nature hungry little kids, nature savvy adults and university entomologists. However unless one walks slowly amidst the milkweed plants, and looks for them, they often go unnoticed, even with their brilliant colors. Don’t let them go unnoticed. Continue reading