I took this picture last spring -- I am pretty sure this is a Western Tiger Swallowtail. This isn't the best picture to show off its wings or fancy tail, but I like this one because it shows the detail of the face, antennae, legs, and proboscis. It might not show up that well, but you can see the mouth parts going directly into the flower. Click on it for a close-up -- it's really fuzzy!
Swallowtails are a little different than most other butterflies. As a caterpillar, they have an organ on the back of their head that can release a smelly substance when threatened by a predator. Their tails are also forked like swallow birds, giving them their name, Swallowtail. It is believed that butterflies have a very short lifespan. Depending on the species, some can live as little as a week or as long as a year. Good thing they're pretty!
Anyway, there's no real reason I'm posting this. I've been a little depressed lately about the delay with my book, so I thought I'd put up a picture of something pretty. I hope you like the photograph.