Warm weather brings butterflies to park

The Eastern Tiger Swallowtail is a yellow and black butterfly that can be found along Terrace Drive and John Findley Drive in Oak Mountain State Park. (Contributed)

The Eastern Tiger Swallowtail is a yellow and black butterfly that can be found along Terrace Drive and John Findley Drive in Oak Mountain State Park. (Contributed)

By EMILY D. COOK / Community Columnist

Butterflies are a beautiful sight to see and we have many different viewing opportunities at Oak Mountain State Park.

Warm weather has brought the butterflies of a variety of colors and sizes out and about throughout the park.

Large Zebra Swallowtails (Eurytides marcellus) and small Falcate Orangetips (Anthocharis midea)can be found along the Green and Red Trails near Peavine Falls. These butterflies are easy to identify by their markings.

Zebra Swallowtails are black and white striped and Falcate Orangeti­ps are a soft white with some light green marbling on lower wing and males have a bright orange on the upper wing tips.

You can find the Eastern Tiger Swallowtails (Papilio glaucus), a beautiful yellow and black butterfly, Monarchs (Danaus plexippus), a colorful orange and black butterfly, and Spring Azures (Celastrina ladon), a light bluish purple small butterfly along Terrace Drive and John Findley Drive, especially near the water.

If you have the opportunity, stop by the Oak Mountain Interpretive Center and check out the attractive butterfly garden that is there.

The numerous plants are a magnet for a variety of butterflies.

Did you know in many species of butterflies that you can identify a male from a female by looking at the colors? You can!

Butterflies exhibit sexual dimorphism, where they will look different from each other.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtails are a great example, as the males are black and yellow and the females can either be a yellow or black morph.

The yellow morph of the female will differ from the male in having a band of blue spots on the hindwing. In most cases, but not all, the female appears darker than the male as a way of camouflaging themselves.

Come out to the park on a nice, sunny, warm day and look for a diversity of butterflies.

We have several species of plants that they enjoy, as well as numerous water sources for them, and they come visit in abundance.

Please remember that you keep Alabama State Parks open by visiting them. Thank you for your support.