Dismal Swamp Ride and Zebra Swallowtail Butterflies

In this image you can see the red stripe and the "swallow tail."
In this image you can see the red stripe and the “swallow tail.”

Memorial Day Weekend offered a beautiful Saturday – perfect for loading the bikes and driving to the Dismal Swamp Trail.  We needed to fit in one more 10 mile bike ride to meet the requirements for The Daughter’s AHG Cycling Badge.  This trail is flat road, formerly Rt. 17, and runs about 8 miles alongside the Dismal Swamp Canal.  So, we planned to go 5 miles or so, and then turn around and head back.  We had a great time!  There was a wonderful breeze almost the whole time we were riding.  A flotilla of immense fluffy white cumulus clouds held back the heat while allowing for occasional glimpses of bright blue sky.  The trees that border the trail and the Dismal Swamp Canal kept us close to or in the cooling shade.

We saw a few Black Snakes (nothing venomous), a very busy Dung Beetle (who knew!?) , and heard a Bob White calling, but couldn’t find him! The Daughter and I took a break on one of many benches along the canal and noticed a great many unfamiliar blue-striped butterflies fluttering about the clover.  I managed to grab a few photos with my phone.  Today, I looked them up in my Butterflies of North America and discovered they are  Zebra Swallowtail Butterflies.  The caterpillars require PawPaw trees, which are abundant in the Dismal Swamp region.  The Pawpaw fruit is a favorite of raccoons and bears which may be why we saw a sign with instructions for bear sightings!

The Great Dismal Swamp Park has even more to offer, so we will go back again soon!

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