An old world swallowtail lays an egg
It isn’t summer yet, but if you want to take a picture like this one, you’ll need an early start. Because you’ll need to plant fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) in your garden, which you can plant starting at the end of February. These swallowtails search out several different plants for their caterpillars to feed on, and fennel appears to be their favorite.
When the swallowtail visits the fennel plant, you can instantly tell by its behavior if it is laying eggs. She will hang on a sprig of fennel, while fluttering her wings, bend her abdomen, and deposit one egg. Then she’ll fly to a new sprig and repeat the process. This may go on for some time, before she will fly off.
On the film clip below, you can see how quick the whole process is. From arriving at a suitable spot, laying an egg, and flying off again take only 13 seconds. So you can see, you’ll need to be ready, and work fast to get your shot. This clip was used with the kind permission of Frans Weerts.
So it is important to always keep your camera, with the proper lens, at the ready, and to visit your garden often. The Old World Swallowtail has two generations every year. Most butterflies in Holland fly between the middle of July till the middle of August.
Camera: Canon EOS 5D MkII with a gun-stock mount
Lens: EF 180mm f/3.5L Macro
Flash: Macro Twin Lite MT-24EX
Exposure 1/180 sec, Aperture: f/19