South Jersey Butterfly Project
Middle Township Bike Path at Shellbay Ave.
Cape May County, NJ
I was casually walking on the Middle Township Bike Path just above (north of) Shellbay Avenue around 10:30 AM on Friday, June 15. It was just a quick stop on the way home from the store. I saw very few butterflies on this sunny, warm day where there was lots of nectar, to the point where it was almost scary—but this season has been this way. Then I spotted the Zebra Swallowtail!
After scraping myself up off the ground, I leapt into the grasses along the side of the bike path (getting covered in ticks in the process). The Zebra was working its way along the forest edge, low to the ground, moving south.
The ID was immediately obvious as Zebra ST is unmistakable and I am familiar with it in Maryland. It was in good shape with the tails intact. I got within a foot of the butterfly. She seemed to be testing the tree leaves for her food plant, and lacking Pawpaw, she seemed interested in the Sassafras.
I observed her for about 10 minutes before she disappeared from my sight. I would guess she continued southward, crossing Shellbay Avenue.
I suppose she could have been a release, but Delaware is close and a W/NW wind is favorable for bringing butterflies across the Bay. What an exciting find in this otherwise disappointing butterfly season!
[Congratulations to Cynthia on the superb find – and thanks to her for the detailed and delightful report. I bet I am not alone in my envy! This is only our second find of this species since our log began 10+ years ago. Jim Dowdell also had a zebra swallowtail (missing one tail) in his garden in Villas CMY on July 28, 2014. jc]
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