This is a Black Swallowtail butterfly. They are a very common butterfly. There were a lot of them up at Jump Off Rock. I’ve frequently seen butterflies up at Jump Off Rock. I think they intentionally plant butterfly-friendly plants there.
One time I saw a cloud of butterflies go by. It was over before I got the camera out.
This is interesting; “Papilio polyxenes demonstrates polyandry and a lek mating system.”
Male Black Swallowtails congregate together during the breeding season into a Lek. They chase any Black Swallowtail not in the club away. How can they tell? I don’t know. The females visit the area where these butterflies are congregated. These lekking territories have the highest female visitation rate. “Nearly 80% of the successful courtship flights were confined to a male’s territory or nearby undefended areas.” *
He is on thistles up at Jump Off Rock.
Did you know Thistles are in the aster family? There are a lot of wildflowers that look like thistles. Spines are one of the most widely recognized characteristics of true thistles. But, thistles are not the only flower with spines. Thistles can grow pretty much anywhere. This, however, is for sure a thistle. What kind of thistle? I don’t know for sure.
There are native and non-native thistles and there are a lot of different kinds of thistles. I read how you tell the difference, and I cannot be sure. I would like to say this is a Carolina or Soft Thistle. It looks like the pictures and I like the name. It was softish and it was in North Carolina. They are 2’ to 4’, which this is. They are have sparse hairs. Check. And the flowers are pink to purple. Check.
* Territorial defense and lek behavior of the black swallowtail butterfly, Papilio polyxenes
Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, Robert C. Lederhouse