Monday, August 22, 2016

Butterfly Garden Notes, August 22, 2016

Here’s what’s happened over the past two weeks…

Well, my monarch caterpillars are gone.  The predators must have gotten them before they had a chance to grow larger.  I’m not sure how many of them will make it now with all the milkweed bugs, aphids and that praying mantis hanging around.  I really miss seeing those monarch cats crawling up and down the milkweed.

Luckily, this past Friday a Giant Swallowtail egg hatched on the rue.  I’m hoping this little guy grows large enough to disguise himself as “bird poop” and he makes it through to become a butterfly.
 About two weeks ago, I picked up a popcorn cassia at the garden center which the Cloudless Sulphur just loves to visit.  There are always Sulphurs fluttering about the courtyard, but they kept bypassing my garden.  I specifically got the cassia for them and sure enough, they are lingering in my garden now.
Finally, this past weekend I was treated to a Giant Swallowtail which came into the patio garden to nectar on the verbena bonariensis.  This plant is a butterfly magnet!  I bought a lot of it this year and the butterflies have been enjoying it all summer.  I also picked up some of the big, open giant flower head zinnias.  I’m not sure what the correct name for them is.  All I know is the butterflies flock to them.  They like these much better then the kind with the double blooms because the flower makes a nice big landing pad and they can easily access the nectar.  The Gulf Fritillaries seem to really enjoy the zinnias.
Lastly, besides the above mentioned butterflies, I can always count on my garden to be full of different skippers and also a few duskywings.  These little guys are there all the time flitting from flower to flower.  I can always count on them to be there even when some of the larger butterflies are absent.


Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Butterfly Garden Notes, August 9, 2016

I saw two freshly hatched monarch caterpillars on the patio milkweed this weekend.  It’s now Tuesday, and I haven’t seen them again.  They were so tiny that either I’m just not seeing them, or they were eaten.  I’m guessing the later which seems to happen a lot.

The praying mantis is still living on the patio.  I watched her climb onto the bee balm and stay there perfectly still until a skipper few near.  Then she’d turn her head around quickly ready to catch it if it came close enough.  She didn’t have any luck.  She gave up after a while and crawled away on to another plant.  I didn’t see her at all yesterday, although I’m sure she’s still lurking around someplace.

I picked up more zinnia this weekend.  These are the big, flat flower head kind.  The butterflies love them!  I was finally able to get some nice images of a fritillary nectaring on the front porch.

I have a nice variety of nectar flowers right now.  I live in such an urban section of Pasadena, that I’m amazed I get butterflies at all.  But as I was told, plant it and they will come.  And they have!

Besides the butterflies, I have failed to give the bees any credit.  This year I’ve had so many of them!  I take them for granted as I also do the hummingbirds since they are always in my garden in abundance.  I took a photo of one of the bees on the milkweed.  I’ll try and get some photos of the hummers in a future post.

So far this year I’d say I’ve had a very successful pollinator/butterfly garden.  I am hoping more caterpillars make it through their cycle to become butterflies before the summer is over.