Anise Swallowtail Butterfly
(Grand Forks, B.C. Canada)
Anise Butterfly, newly hatched
After the first few warm days in May, you can expect to see brand new adult Anise Swallowtail butterflies, freshly hatched. They visit anything that's blooming, including the dandelions opening in the lawn. Anything with nectar is fair game, and even potting soil if it's damp enough will attract them.
For the first few weeks of the season, the sightings will be sporadic, as if it gets cool and cloudy, as early June tends to be, they hide and go into torpor, waiting for warmer days.
Flowers that attract them from June onwards are the many types and varieties of Sedum spurium, the first one blooming is Sedum spurium album Superbum, a white flowering variety. As the blooms in each cluster open in sequence, the number of butterflies increases.
Generally, the adults will sip nectar of many flowers, occasionally puddling for salts in compost or potting soil, and then the caterpillars are hosted on dill, rue and other related plants.
The characteristic orange and blue spots on the tail of the adult are how to identify these gorgeous creatures.