Black Swallowtail Visits Breaking Ground Green Roof

(Beautiful Black Swallowtail pollenating the Breaking Ground green roof)

The black swallowtail butterfly, Papilio polyxenesis, has joined the list of amazing critters that have come to pollinate the flowers, vegetables and fruits on the green roof at Breaking Ground Contracting in Jacksonville, FL. Kevin Songer, our passionate green roof designer, informed me that this butterfly is the state butterfly of Oklahoma. Both beautiful and productive as very active pollinator, I was so honored that this busy little winged insect stopped JUST long enough for me to snap one, lone photo.  Good thing I was ready! (Click on the photo to see a larger image)

Teachers, this roof is such an amazing resource for educating your students about the importance of pollination for plant and food production. It became so evident to me while  growing eggplant on my 4th-floor apartment balcony that never produced fruit. The plants got dozens of flowers, but never gave forth a single eggplant. At the same time, the eggplant plants on the Breaking Ground green roof were flowering, but something else was happening…bees and butterflies and other buzzing and fluttering critters were ALL OVER the flowers. Over a week or so later, guess what I saw? Yep…eggplant. My plants on the patio were never pollinated. So no fruit. Hmmm. Moral of the story: without pollinators, much of our crops do not produce food. Imagine the impact if pollinators, like the honey bee, begin to disappear. Projects like the Breaking Ground green roof help to keep the biodiversity healthy and bring the natural elements back together. It’s happening in front of our very eyes. Mother Nature is very smart. We just need to follow her rules and listen to her spirit.

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