Thursday, September 13, 2012

Butterfly report

I've been keeping an eye on the butterfly population. Although l still think it‘s down overall from previous years, l have seen an uptick. We continue to have loads of the little ones-lots of small fritillaries, white loopers and others and pretty many sulfers.

I've seen only a handful of monarchs, although l was happy to see some caterpillars on the swamp milkweed. We have tons of the wild milkweed out back, so hopefully there are caterpillars feasting there too. Not too many swallowtails, but I have seen more in the past two weeks. l've seen caterpillars on dill, fennel, rue and parsley and saw a black swallowtail laying eggs on the parsley this Week.

The one species I've noticed in abundance is the buckeye. It’s medium-sized, brown with some yellow and orange markings, but very noticeable for the round spots or eyes on the outer edges of its wings. Turns out the caterpillars feed on plantain, verbenas and snaps, all of which we have, so l guess it‘s just a buffet for them.
I noticed a butterfly sitting on zinnias one day (not the one above.) It had its wings folded up, so that l could only see the undersides and I couldn’t figure out what kind it was. Must have been happy, because it sat there awhile. When it finally flew off, I saw it was a painted lady~very pretty. also saw a brown little one that l had to look up. Turned out to he a Northern Cloudywing. Not very showy, but l like the name.

The painted lady was sitting in a patch of pink profusion zinnias and boy, are they spectacular this year. Plenty of rain made for lush growth and plenty of sun means loads of flowers. The colors~cherry pink, orange and deep apricot are all so rich and the white is bright and clear. They bloom constantly and require very little deadheading.  And never a lick of mildew on them since l've grown them. l always give them the most bang for your buck award. I love the tall old~fashioned zinnias with their wide color range, but no matter how I site them they always seem to develop mildew.

l‘m reducing large harvests on woody-stemmed perennials like thyme, sage and rosemary to allow plenty of foliage to remain for winter protection. Can still harvest and use-just don't cut back the whole plant or cut back really hard.

No comments: