January 3, 2012 – I received an email asking for help. A black swallowtail butterfly was born in a home in Saint Paul, MN. I could hardly believe it. How was this possible? Erin Pryor Pavlica needed to know what nectar sources to offer the butterfly. The butterfly formed a chrysalis in November and Erin brought it inside. The butterfly emerged on January 3. Normally butterflies don’t need nectar for 24-48 hours after they emerge. I suggested she try sweet fruit such as an orange and sugar water. Butterflies taste with their feet. The next day, Erin reported that the butterfly did not taste the orange. She was going to try sugar water next.
Erin posted her story on Facebook. Many people around the country answered with suggestions and some had tried similar nectar for butterflies born out of season in their own homes. All agreed that it would be impossible to move the butterfly. There is an average of 560 species of swallowtails. Many are brilliant and live in the tropics. The Monarch Butterfly Habitat in Shell Lake is home to the yellow Canadian Tiger swallowtail in season. Normally the butterfly overwinters outside in the pupal stage. Some swallowtails may spend more than a year like this. I imagine that the home, being heated, was too warm and triggered a different response. Perhaps this is why the butterfly emerged in winter. Surely the butterfly was out of its natural life cycle and habitat.
The black swallowtail is thriving. The butterfly has enjoyed sipping from a rotten old apple and an aged squashed banana. On Saturday, Erin said, “Yes, I have several cotton pads with sugar solution soaked into them. I put fresh solution out several times a day. The butterfly is usually active after eating!”
I would like to mention that Erin had a baby girl, Quinn Mae, on New Year’s Eve. She is thrilled that the black swallowtail butterfly arrived within days of the child’s birth. I invited the family to visit Shell Lake next summer. I look forward to celebrating the butterfly baby at the Native Wildflower and Butterfly Garden. Quinn Mae won’t be the first butterfly baby to be remembered at the Monarch Butterfly Habitat.
January 24 – Environmental Film Fest, 12 Noon, Lac Courte Oreilles (LCO) Ojibwa Community College, 13466 W Trepania Road, Hayward. Film: WATERBUSTER. The film is about the effects of the Gannon Dam on the Missouri River and how a family, which is one of the WATERBUSTER clan, was torn apart and their journey back to wholeness again. Susan Menzel, Tribal collage intern, stated she watched the film and drew parallels about Lac Courte Oreilles history. There was a time when the tribe was flooded to create the Chippewa Flowage in 1924 and the Winter Dam was installed. The Dam was turned over to LCO in the 1970s. Speaker to be announced. The event is open to the community.