A patch of thistle was growing at the edge of a parking area at Santee National Wildlife Refuge, Cuddo Unit. I suspect it was planted or at least encouraged by human intervention: it was a little too neat to be just wild.
An assortment of insects were working the thistle blooms, with a Black Swallowtail standing out.
The blooms were in all stages of development, some well on their way to releasing seeds for a new crop.
This Black Swallowtail Butterfly flitted along on the outside of the plants lining the walkway as I went along the edge of the pond, obscuring my view. Finally he landed in a fern and seemed to peak through the fronds.
He then moved to a more open area and spent some time on this statice type plant.
The plant was down an embankment putting me even with the Butterfly for part of his feeding.
The area just beyond these plants has recently been flooded as part of a plan to make an additional pond near the heron rookery. Next year the vegetation will likely be very different here.
A year ago I captured similar images of butterfly and plant at a different pond about 25 miles (40 Kilometers) from this spot and thought the plant to be Brazilian Vervain (Verbena brasiliensis). Black Swallowtail Butterfly is the post if you’d like to compare.
These flowers look awful small to offer much to a butterfly but this one persisted, moving steadily from flower to flower. The lack of leaves on this plant gave me a clear view.
He rotated and showed me every side while he was doing it.
Even upside down!
He easily walked across the tops of the flowers.
And hung off the side.
I believe the plant is Brazilian Vervain (Verbena brasiliensis), a non-native plant that grows wild along roadsides, in disturbed areas, old fields. (NameThatPlant.net, A storehouse of information about native and naturalized plants of the Carolinas and Georgia.)