Lots of lovely photos later, I decided to look them up to be sure of the names of these. They looked like swallowtails but what kind? That's where the mystery comes in because Oregon Swallowtails (which I had rather thought them to be), do not migrate and live a year in Oregon, but only in Eastern Oregon, mostly in the rivers that enter into the Columbia. Looking closely at the photos, these are not Oregon Swallowtails; so then what are they?
I am not an insect person generally. I see pretty yellow butterfly and other than monarchs, I just think pretty yellow butterfly with no urge to know exactly what the name is. That is right up until I have these gorgeous photos, wings looking battered, and a blog to write on the topic. And that's when it gets complicated as many photos that look exactly like these are not in my part of Oregon.
As part of this, I went looking for photos of the caterpillars which I felt would be smart as if we want these butterflies (whatever type of swallowtail they might be), we better not be destroying the caterpillar that is them. It looks to me like, no matter which of the many varieties of swallowtails, the caterpillars look a lot alike.
photo from http://mark.rehorst.com/Bug_Photos/
From what I read, the swallowtail caterpillar is drawn to parsley plants, which we do grow here, as well as other herbs, which they might take as second choice. They are about 3" long.
It kind of looks like the photos below are of tiger swallowtails (although I have yet to confirm that those are in my part of Oregon)... It wasn't the end of the mystery though as it turned out we had two types of butterflies that day which we hadn't noticed until studying the photos.
This next one is different and looks much more like the Oregon Swallowtail, the butterfly that lives in sagebrush country and not here. It turned out the answer didn't require a climate change to draw a new butterfly to us.
Anise Swallowtails, which also look like Old World Swallowtails, look like the Oregon Swallowtails. Although the Oregon Swallowtail does not migrate, the Anise does. This one though looked less like it had been traveling than the other butterflies that afternoon where their wings had clearly been attacked or worn out.
Monarchs fascinate anyone who understands their story where they migrate but die in a southern climate where they will have laid their eggs. The new butterfly, once it emerges knows to head north to from where the parents had come.
One time we were up the Clackamas River, hiking into a stream that saw few people. What it did see were thousands of Monarchs having a congregation. We ran into something similar in Montana one June where not thousands but a lot of butterflies had come to one grassy glade.
Wherever they are seen, I never see a butterfly that it does not attract my eye. Mostly I am content to say--pretty yellow butterfly but we did plant that butterfly bush for them and knowing they like parsley as much as we do, we'll be planting more of it too because the caterpillar, not the beauty of the flying insect, is what has to be nurtured, rather like our own less beautiful parts need to be nurtured to bring out the butterfly in us. Maybe knowing that is why most of us do value the butterfly.