Just in time for spring, a beautiful butterfly stamp has been issued for large greeting card envelopes by the U.S. Postal Service.
Following the monarch and Baltimore checkerspot stamps, spicebush swallowtail is the third in a series of butterfly issuances designed specifically for oversized envelopes.
The stamp is available nationwide in panes of 20 stamps at the two-ounce rate of 66 cents each.
The stamp art was created on a computer, using images of preserved butterflies as a starting point. The result is a highly stylized, simplified image of a spicebush swallowtail rather than an exact replica of the butterfly.
Both as caterpillars and adults, spicebush swallowtails hide from their predators in plain sight. They do this by mimicking other animals and even inedible objects.
When very young, the brown and white caterpillar resembles a bird dropping. The caterpillar later morphs into what looks like a small green snake, with yellow and black markings that resemble a snake's eyes and a false forked tongue.
The butterfly's chrysalis mimics a dried brown leaf, complete with veins.
The square format of the stamp was developed in partnership with the greeting card industry to indicate that this stamp may be used for square envelopes weighing up to and including one ounce.
Greeting card envelopes printed with a silhouette of a butterfly indicate the need for an additional 20 cents postage - or the use of this butterfly stamp. The stamp may also be used to mail envelopes with irregular sizes and shapes.
Customers have 90 days from the official first day of issuance date to obtain first day of sale postmarks on new stamps and stationery items. Collectors may request a local first day of sale postmark by mail only.
There is no charge for servicing of first day of sale postmarks up to 50 covers. Mail-in customers must supply a self-addressed envelope with return postage applied to return the serviced covers.
To obtain the first day of sale postmark, mail stationery items bearing spicebush swallowtail stamps to Customer Relations USPS, 79 Mid Cape Terrace, Suite 8, Cape Coral, FL 33991. Please specify which city you are requesting a postmark for - Fort Myers, Cape Coral, Naples, or Sanibel.
All orders must be postmarked by April 23.
For more information about purchasing stamps, stamps by mail, postal regulations, a free subscription to "USA Philatelic magazine," Post Office events, the location of the nearest postal store or contract unit, or for answers to specific Postal Service questions, contact the USPS at (800) 275-8777, or visit www.usps.com.
For detailed information on selection criteria for stamps, visit: www.stamps.com/communications/organization/csac.htm.
Debra Mitchell is a spokeswoman for U.S. Postal Service.