Black Swallowtail in Weedy Parking Lot: July 2020

My interest in plant identification started when I was working in downtown Toronto. On warm weather days, I would prowl about nearby weedy alleys during my lunch break. Slowly, I began to be able to recognize and identify the common species. On this 2020 day, I visited one of my favourite weedy spots: a parking lot near Dupont and Bathurst.

The word “weed”, of course, is a name given to plants that people don’t like. Some “weeds” are actually very beautiful as these photographs attest.

Queen-Anne’s-lace (Daucus carota)
Canada Thistle (Cirsium arvense)
Canada Thistle (Cirsium arvense)
Downy Chess (Bromus tectorum)
Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus inserta)
Hedge Mustard (Sisymbrium officinale)
Riverbank Grape (Vitis riparia)
Riverbank Grape (Vitis riparia)
Quack Grass (Elymus repens)
Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare)
Red Clover (Trifolium pratense)
Buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica)
Privet (Ligustrum obtusifolium)
Tree-of-heaven (Ailanthus altissima)
Hedge Bindweed (Calystegia sepium)
Galls on Hackberry leaf
White Campion (Silene latifolia)
Russian-olive (Elaeagnus angustifolia)
Cuppus Tim-hortonii
Common Sow-thistle (Sonchus oleraceus)
Curled Dock (Rumex crispus)
Elderberry (Sambucus canadensis)
Wall Rocket (Diplotaxis muralis)
Birdfoot Trefoil (Lotus corniculatis)
White Mulberry (Morus alba)
Morrow Honeysuckle (Lonicera morrowii)
Viper’s Bugloss (Echium vulgare)
Red Ash (Fraxinus pensylvanica)
Common Burdock (Arctium minus)
Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca)

During my walk, I saw numerous Cabbage Butterflies,

Cabbage White Butterfly
Cabbage White Butterfly

a Mockingbird doing a splendid Cardinal song imitation,

Northern Mockingbird

a Song Sparrow,

Song Sparrow with meal for chick

and a Red-winged Blackbird chick.

Red-winged Blackbird chick
Red-winged Blackbird chick

Just as I was about to depart, a Black Swallowtail flew into view:

Eastern Black Swallowtail

I have been seeing many Tiger Swallowtails these days;

Tiger Swallowtail

Black Swallowtails are found in southern Manitoba, northwestern and southern Ontario, southern Quebec and in the Maritimes except for Newfoundland.

Eastern Black Swallowtail

They are one of the most popular garden butterflies and among the easiest to attract.

Eastern Black Swallowtail

The final brood of this species appears in July and flies throughout August.

Eastern Black Swallowtail

The distinctive blue band between the two rows of yellow spots, indicates that this is a female. Males have more yellow tones than blue.

Eastern Black Swallowtail


Press close bare-bosom’d night—
press close magnetic nourishing night!
Night of south winds—night of the large few stars!  
Still nodding night—mad naked summer night.    – Walt Whitman (1819–92)

Miles Hearn

3 thoughts on “Black Swallowtail in Weedy Parking Lot: July 2020

  1. Pina

    Cuppus Tim Hortonii – funny
    I wish people would not throw their garbage everywhere and anywhere.

    Nice post from Weedy Parking Lot!!

  2. Leigh

    I find it interesting that Black Swallowtails enjoy so many non-native plants, for example Queen Anne’s Lace or dill, parsley, carrots, parsnip, etc. I gather its food sources all belong to the parsley family i.e. Apiaceae, which apparently comprises 75 native species as well as our familiar, edible imports.

    Apparently Black Swallowtails sometimes lay their eggs on Water Hemlock, another member of the Apiaceae family that is both highly poisonous. One source says the Iroquois called it “the suicide root.” Yikes.


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