Aug 23 2009

A Monarch Send-off to Syracuse


We spent Saturday in a frenzy of preparation for Nicole’s send-off to Syracuse.  Even though I was cooking, blowing up balloons and making creative orange and blue decorations, I had half an eye to the garden.  I was rewarded with a flash of orange–a monarch butterfly! I dropped what I was doing and (literally) went chasing butterflies. . .

Later, Shirley gave me an article from The Washington Post by Joel M. Lerner about creating a garden habitat for butterflies.  This year’s garden was an accidental paradise–no pesticides, the right plants, small puddles, flat rocks, sun, and the shady green bean arbor.  The caterpillars all over the fennel that I insisted should be exterminated (but we only got as far as purchasing the organic pesticide) were the beginnings of our beautiful eastern black swallowtails.  We were ready to strike fennel off of our growing list for next year.  Now we plant more!


Aug 15 2009

More Butterflies


Roger and I spend the day catching up on yard work.  For me, that meant weeding in short bursts in between running back and forth to the zinnias to look at the butterflies.  This is my third and last post concerning lepidopterology (for today).  These two insects are less flashy than the swallowtails but interesting all the same.  The orange butterfly with the spots is some kind of brushwing butterfly–maybe an Aphrodite Fratillary  The second one with the white markings is a Silver Spotted Skipper.  Interestingly enough, this butterfly has big eyes, and almost never lands on a yellow flower.  I watched both of them flit from flower to flower, completely fascinated.  I have already demanded a complete revision of next year’s garden plan to include more flowers that attract butterflies. (Poor Roger!)

Aug 15 2009

Black Swallowtail



Add to my recent butterfly observations, the equally common Black Swallowtail.  I’ll be very sorry when these zinnias finish blooming!

Aug 14 2009

Swallowtail Butterflies and Bees


I was in the garden selecting the flowers I hoped to enter in the fair when I took these photos.  There was a butterfly on nearly every zinnia.  I knew they were swallowtails, but I didn’t know much more (shame on me, Cousin Diane).  I also discovered that the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (our common variety)  is the state butterfly of Georgia, Virginia, Alabama, Delaware and South Carolina.

Maryland, by the way, has chosen the Baltimore Checkerspot. I’d like to see them!

At the same time, I heard a loud buzzing and knew there were bees nearby.  The volume was alarming.  Around my ankles, in every cucumber flower, there was a bee!  That’s I good sign, I learned.  Cucumbers depend exclusively on honey bees for pollination.  According to a North Carolina Department of Entomology bulletin, it takes an average of 12 honeybee visits to ONE flower in ONE day in order for pollination to occur.  By the sound of the garden, Roger and I should brace ourselves for large cucumber harvest.  Pickles anyone?