On Sunday, we planted a butterfly bush that was already in bloom. On Tuesday, I saw its first visitor, and what a stunner! He was as big as my hand, and did he love our bush.
I’ve looked in our ancient butterfly field guide, and nothing even close to this beauty shows up*. So, I searched online.
I found a great interactive field guide at eNature. The advanced search lets you tell the guide all about the critter you’ve seen and where you saw it, and then gives you your best bets.
Result: our visitor was a western tiger swallowtail.
*The western tiger swallowtail is in our field guide, but it’s wings look very different from the butterfly shown here, which is why I didn’t recognize it.