The Giant Swallowtail Butterfly, Papilio cresphontes, is the largest butterfly species in North America. While its North American presence is primarily restricted to the southern United States, its southern native range extends as far as Columbia and Venezuela in northern South America.
Because this butterfly’s larval host plant includes members of the Citrus family, it is regarded as a pest by many citrus growers. Giant Swallowtail caterpillars can eat all the leaves of small plants, which is sometimes lethal to little citrus trees. Our ranch in northwest Louisiana (Wafer Creek Ranch) has only one species representing the family, Wafer Ash (aka, Common Hoptree), Ptelea trifoliata. Although uncommon on our land, if it were destroyed or otherwise lost, there would be no more of these dazzling flying insects so important in their pollen distribution from flower to flower.
The caterpillar exemplifies to me the peculiar concoction of beauty and freakiness. The lumpy area at one end of its body is a fake head forming a hood-like structure with amazing geometric designs and beautiful fake eyes. The real head is in front and largely tucked under the expanded hood. Check out those “eyes” and see if you agree with me that they look a bit sleepy and mammalian like. As with many insects, such fake ornaments are an evolutionary protective measure to intimidate would-be predators. JA
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Johnny Armstrong, Author
#Biodiversity advocate. Ecosystem Restorationist. Steward of an old-growth forest and woodland in northern Louisiana. #ForestFolkMatter #ScienceMatters
Rescuing Biodiversity (publishing in June 2023) tells the story of Johnny's attempts at Wafer Creek Ranch to preserve a vanishing Louisiana ecosystem and restore the animal and plant species that once lived there.
“An avowed student of life and restoration ecology, Johnny Armstrong expertly teaches us how to restore an imperiled southern ecosystem based on deep research, firsthand experience, and delighted observation of the species that return to his beloved Wafer Creek Ranch. Driving his devotion is the alarming truth that loss of biodiversity poses a threat on par with climate change and his impassioned belief that society can alter that trajectory, one acre at a time.”
Cindy Brown, Executive Director
Land Trust for Louisiana
“Up there on your bookshelf between Tolkien and Watership Down is where this book belongs. As an anthropomorphic adventure that winds through the realm of animals possessing courage, savagery, perseverance, and ultimately wisdom in the face of mounting evil threats – humans disconnected from the natural world – the tale is relevant, if not necessary.”
Kelby Ouchley, Author
Bayou Diversity: Nature & People in the Louisiana Bayou Country
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Shadowshine, An Animal Adventure
by Johnny Armstrong
#Fiction #Literature #LiteraryFiction #AnimalFiction