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Swallowtail Misdirection

Nature in Santa Clarita, it’s not what you look at but what you see

-Wendy Langhans

Anise Butterflies can be found near willows and sycamore trees.

When a magician announces, “Nothing up my sleeve,” he is engaging in the subtle art of misdirection.  With a grand sweeping gesture, he directs the audience’s attention away from where the object is actually located.

Some butterflies also rely on the subtle art of misdirection to focus a predator’s attention away from their vulnerable heads.  If you take a closer look at the photo of the Anise butterfly, you’ll see what I mean.  Note the two “tails” at the bottom of the wings. Compare their hefty size with the spindly antennae located near their head.  Also note the orange-colored spots located between the nearby “tails”.

If you were a hungry bird and you saw this colorful butterfly feeding on a flower, which end would you attack?

Yeah, I would too. That’s why you sometimes see swallowtail butterflies with tattered wings, especially near their tails.  Better a tattered but airworthy wing than a missing head. 

Our next hike is scheduled at Towsley Canyon on Saturday, June 9, from 7:30-9:30 AM.  Welcome to the Towsley Shopping Mall: Native Americans use plants to support their everyday needs. Towsley Canyon is located on the Old Road, west of I-5 and about 1/4 mile south of the Calgrove exit.

You can listen to stories like this every Friday morning at 7:10 a.m. on "The Hike Report", brought to you by your hometown radio station KHTS (AM1220) and by the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority.

For our complete hike and activity schedule and for trail maps, go to

To see what's playing on radio station KHTS, go to tune in to AM 1220.

Swallowtail Misdirection

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