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Entries in nature blog (56)

Sunday
Jul012012

Sunday Visitors...

I decided to slow down for a break today and see what came through the yard right after we finally got a good rain for about 30 minutes.  I'll start with a female Ruby-Throated Hummingbird.  She and a male were checking out the flowers and the feeders.

Here's a Snowberry Clearwing Moth.  A really fascinating creature.  It flies silently and slowly moves around to each flower pod on my butterfly bushes.  This is the first one I've seen this season.  Here's a picture of last years (HERE).

Here's a Brown Thrasher.  They are very interesting to watch with their stern eyes and they sweeping motion moving around leaf litter to see what bugs or worms it runs across.

Don't freak out!  These are actually good bugs to have.  They are Assassin Bugs.  Cool name, huh!  They scour your plants looking for all kinds of juicy bugs to grab, stab and dine.  Be careful not to handle them though.  It's said they give a pretty good sting with the proboscis.  That's what they jab into their victim and inject their poison to dissolve their prey's insides out to then suck up.

Remember, it's good to not just go grab anything off the shelf at the store that kills everything.  If you let nature take its course, there are usually always good bugs to run off bad bugs.  Rarely do you need to do anything to interfere.  Just do a little bit of Google research like I do a lot.  It's knowledge that will last a lifetime!

This one might look dangerous, but it's not.  It's a Milkweed Bug.  It just sucks on Milkweed plants.  But doesn't really do enough damage to worry about them.  And their life cycle is short only lasting during the blooming season of Milkweed plants.  Birds and others don't like them though because they keep a lot of the toxins and distasteful aspects of the Milkweed plant within themselves to really give a nasty taste to a would-be predator.

Now, get out there and see what's going on your yard!  Happy yarding!

Tuesday
Jun122012

Gulf Fritillary Butterfly Caterpillars on Passion Flower Vines

When I got back into town last weekend I noticed a whole mess of caterpillars on my Passion Flower vines. I had forgotten that it is a "host plant" for butterflies, which means some butterflies use it for laying eggs and starting the whole circle of life on the one plant.


After some quick research, I found that they were Gulf Fritillary butterfly caterpillars.  There must be 150 or so of them all over the vines from the tiniest little furry the size of a grain of rice all the way to full-grown ones the length of matchsticks.  

 

I've found one chrysalis so far but expect a whole lot more very soon with so many being pretty large.

So the kids could enjoy it (and me too) I placed the section of vine with the chrysalis in a large mason jar and made a screen top for it.  I hope there's a great show in the near future of this beautiful butterfly to be.

One of the many beautiful things about the Gulf Fritillary is that the bright spots on the outer wing sides is actually more silver so it really reflects direct light.

So get out in your yard and look close at the bushes, plants, and vines.  The eggs usually look like small little balls attached along the vines or under leaves.  And the tiniest little spot could be a new caterpillar!

Tuesday
May292012

Collecting Seeds: Butterfly Weed

My good friend Pam turned me on to Butterfly Weed this last Spring.  I was really wanting to emphasize plants to pull in the butterflies this Summer.  I've been really happy with the success of the different colored versions.  Since this is my first year growing these specific plants I was excited when I saw pods shooting up from my mixed red and orange plants.  

A couple of days later, I noticed they had cracked open and were revealing the seeds with white fluff attached to each wind to catch the wind and go who knows where.  Pam's yard and plants are typically a step ahead of the progression in my yard as far as blooms, butterfly egg laying, etc. so I've enjoyed the anticipation and knowing what to look for as things progress.  

I immediately collected the seeds that have opened up so far.  Considering that I've got several other plants that haven't produced pods yet, I'll have quite the collection of seeds before the Summer is over. As we all know, growing from seeds does take patience versus running out and buying an established plant.  But I enjoy the reward.

The Butterfly Weed plants have been very rewarding this early in the Summer already with the arrival of different butterfly species.  With the plants being "host plants", it's entertaining to see different butterflies use the plant for a certain part of their life cycle and then jump to the next different plant for another aspect of their lives.  Be sure to grab some now while you can at your area local nursery and enjoy them for yourself!

Wednesday
May232012

Giant Swallowtail Butterfly

Had this rather large visitor just the other day.  Haven't seen one since last late Spring.  Should be more to come...

Sunday
May202012

Sunday Butterfly Visitors

These fine winged creatures made their way to the backyard today for a visit.  They were attracted to the butterfly weed and the "festering" watermelon and other fruit I put out for them.

Emperor Leilia Butterfly

Emperor Leilia Butterfly

Gray Comma Leafwing Butterfly

Gray Comma Leafwing Butterfly

Pipevine Swallowtail Butterfly

Here's are some other posts I previously featured of butterflies if you're interested (HERE).