New Jersey now joins the elite 20 or so states that has an official state butterfly.
The black swallowtail butterfly fluttered to the the top of the butterfly heap and was given its official welcome after bipartisan action by the state Legislature and Gov. Chris Christie.
The large black butterfly has distinctive yellow and blue markings and somehow surpassed the monarch, tiger swallowtail and spangled fritillary.
Its designation was largely due to the determined efforts of Jeannie Geremia, a longtime leader in the Garden Club of New Jersey. Her fascination with black swallowtails began about 10 years ago.
Once she discovered New Jersey didn't have a state butterfly she launched a campaign.
In her view, the black swallowtail was the logical choice because it's found in all 21 counties -- rural to urban -- and lives its entire life cycle in New Jersey.
Monarch butterflies, on the other hand, overwinter in Mexico and are already the official butterfly of several other states. Sharon Wander, vice president of the North Jersey Butterfly Club, agrees the black swallowtail is a great choice because just about anyone interested in butterflies can attract this pollinator.
"You can plant common garden herbs like parsley, dill and fennel and it's very likely you'll attract adult black swallowtails to lay eggs," she explained.
Black swallowtails also like wildflowers in the carrot family, like Queen Anne's lace and Golden Alexander.
Getting black swallowtails designated as New Jersey's official butterfly was not easy. She had to write the proposed legislation, find legislative sponsors and help get the bill moved into and out of committee. To rally support, the Garden Club of New Jersey, New Jersey Audubon and other partners launched a massive campaign, including a petition, letter-writing and testimony before the Legislature.
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