Sunday, August 1, 2010

Backyard Butterflies

Today was a day-at-home, and there was an incredible amount of activity on my native plants with no need to go further afield.

Female Tiger Swallowtail (note the blue on hindwing) is one of Ohio's most spectacular insects. A color scheme almost too much to believe... a tiger-striped butterfly! Seriously! Nectaring on Purple Coneflower, Echinacea purpurea, this plant is irresistible to the fliers- both butterflies and finches.

The Swamp Milkweed, Asclepias incarnata was really hopping. Here is a Giant Swallowtail and a Monarch nectaring on the same plant. This is also a host plant for Monarchs, so it would be a good place for her to lay eggs as well.

Next the Giant Swallowtail and Monarch were joined by a Tiger Swallowtail. The activity on the milkweed was non-stop. Sunshine and peak flowering created an irresistible recipe for butterfly watching and the ease of photography was absolutely addicting. I must have spent an hour watching the same three plants.

Silver-spotted Skippers are normally a "frequent fliers" and difficult to find at a stand-still. Today there were 8 or 10 smitten with the nectar of the Joe-Pye-Weed, Eutrochium purpureum (warning: that's a name change) and the bee and butterfly activity on this plant was absolutely riotous. Locust trees are Silver-spot's host plants, and they are in plentiful supply nearby.

One more Joe-Pye customer, a Summer Azure (female- has darker outline on dorsal wings) is a mini-lep, smaller than a dime. Summer Azures are a bit lighter or whiter than the Spring Azure, and they may be smaller in size.
Another summer day gone by, but this one will not soon be forgotten. There were at least 15 species of butterflies seen today on just my little 3 acre lot. It was stunning to see the diversity of species and sheer numbers of these little fliers. And as wonderful as it is for me, they have no place else to go. Our yard is surrounded by cornfields and mowed ditches, so these native plants are the only game in town.
Are there native plants for the butterflies in your neighborhood?

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