Mariton: When the Bergamot Blooms

July 23, 2017

by Tim Burris, Preserve Manager.  Photos by Carole Mebus.

Photo by Carole Mebus

Right now the Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa) is blooming in Mariton’s fields.  It is the lavender wash in the background of Carole’s photo of Woodland Sunflowers.  The bergamot is known to attract multiple pollinators, including butterflies.  Below is a female Eastern Tiger Swallowtail on the bergamot.

Photo by Carole Mebus

Eastern Tiger Swallowtails females have two morphs. The more recognizable yellow seen above, and the black morph seen below.  (Males only have the yellow morph.)

Photo by Carole Mebus

For me, it just adds another layer for identifying black (colored) swallowtails. The Spicebush Swallowtail is the most common at Mariton, but we also see Black Swallowtails and this black morph Eastern Tiger Swallowtail.  When they are moving it is difficult for me to see the field marks to differentiate species.  Fortunately, when they are feeding on the bergamot they linger and I can usually tell them apart.

When the bergamot blooms, you should also look for hummingbird moths and lots of other butterflies.  Right now the Mountain Mint and some other flowers are blooming and attracting a variety of butterflies in Mariton’s fields.