When you are near the Smoky Mountains, you learn to look all around you. Because when you submerse yourself in the forest and look up, you might find a delightful scene or animal, not just another traffic light. I took this photo of the Spicebush Swallowtail in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, but I saw one resting on a branch near our cabin too. The iridescent blue makes me believe this one is a female. The males are bright green.
The Spicebush Swallowtail is found only in the Eastern US and extreme southern Ontario. While it is the state butterfly for Mississippi, I felt surounded by them in TN to my delight. The Tennessee official butterfly is the Zebra Swallowtail, a black and white striped butterfly. TN recognizes 2 other insects, the firefly and ladybug and a state agricultural insect (honeybee). The firefly was designated the official state insect in 1975. The importance of the firefly, commonly called lightning bug, to the state was one of the inspirations for our cabin name Lightning Bug Lodge.
Swallowtails are the largest butterflies in the United States. There are 33 species in the US; besides the Spicebush and Zebra, there are four other swallowtails found in the Smokies: 1) Pipevine Swallowtail, 2) Giant Swallowtail, 3) Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, and 4) Black Swallowtail.