So here, you are, a Western Tiger Swallowtail sipping nectar from a Mexican sunflower.
You are a Papilo rutulus. And your menu choice? A delicate orange beauty from the sunflower family: a Tithonia rotundifolia.
Ah, the sky is blue, the nectar is excellent, and all is RIGHT with the world.
What was that?
Something is WRONG with the world.
A male territorial long-horned bee, probably Melissodes agilis, has his eyes on you. He is buzzing your wings as if you're a suspicious passenger plane and he's a military escort plane. No, not a military escort plane, a fighter plane! He has no intention of escorting you anywhere but off the flower.
Mr. Melissodes yells "Get off that flower; I'm saving it for my own species." He buzzes your head. He buzzes your right wing. He buzzes between your wings.
"Get off that flower now! Hear me?"
"Excuse me, I am eating my breakfast. Wait your turn, please."
Mr. Melissodes roars up over the petals. You see his tiny, furious face as he ascends into your space.
"Get off now!"
"Well, if you insist," you say, scrambling for safety. "I can take a hint."
Author - Communications specialist
A Western tiger swallowtail, Papilo rutulus, lands on a Mexican sunflower, Tithonia rotundifolia. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A dark shadow heads toward the Western Tiger Swallowtail. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
The male territorial long-horned bee, buzzes the Western Tiger Swallowtail, like a jet fighter plane. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Right wing? Left wing? Up the middle. The male territorial longhorned bee tries to dislodge the Western Tiger Swallowtail. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
I'm coming for you! The male territorial bee roars up over the Mexican sunflower as the Western Tiger Swallowtail scrambles for safety. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)