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Author Topic: Butterfly Gardens  (Read 6529 times)
MrILoveTheAnts
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« on: August 08, 2008, 07:10:48 PM »

Just hours ago I observed a Monarch butterfly out in the garden and caught her in the act of laying eggs on the milkweed! The action is simple enough but I must say a little hard to photograph. She only lays one egg at a time and becomes airborne again to land on any random leaf. Occasionally she landed on other plants but quickly dismissed them as being somewhere she wanted to lay eggs. I checked. Occasionally she would circle the garden some but almost always came back to the milkweed where she'd continue laying eggs. 





The milkweed itself has already done it's flowering for the year and it's seed pods are already popped open. Seeds have started becoming airborne. I've collected a few for winter germination. This is Asclepis incarnata (Swamp Milkweed) and it's one of the more taller milkweeds, sometimes reaching 5 feet.



After a hard day of egg laying and dodging the birds at the bird feeder, the Monarch soon discovered the Zinnias. This red and orange (sometimes both) variety I planted is really tattered for some reason. Something likes eating them for sure. The pink variety I planted is in much better condition but has smaller flowers.   





On the topic of butterfly gardens I want to plant Parsley next year but specifically want it for caterpillars. One of the darker swallowtails uses it as a host plant I think. The thing is I only see stores selling Asian and European varieties of the stuff and wonder if the butterflies would even use such nonnatives as a host. Has anyone experienced "parsley worms" and if so what variety were you using?
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Jessaboo
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« Reply #1 on: August 09, 2008, 07:52:54 PM »

I plant parsley, dill and fennel every year for the butterflies. We always get swallowtails. Usually  black swallowtails, a few tiger swallowtails. I have never seen a pipevine swallowtail in our yard but I think they do exist in Jersey.

I have no idea what variety of parsley I use - but we have always just bought seedlings or plants of flat leaf and curly parsley from the local nursery. There is no question from my experience that they like the curly parsley better.

Their favorite, though, seems to be Florence Fennel. We have that and bronze fennel - there is an occasional caterpillar on the bronze but there are always lots on the florence. Plus, you can eat the bulb and restart from seed the next year.

Dill is about a 50/50 on the caterpillars. If the fennel is around they dis the dill in favor of fennel.

If you do both fennel and dill, you will have to buy new, true seed every year as the two cross pollinate like crazy.

- Jess
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Cindi
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« Reply #2 on: August 10, 2008, 10:39:54 AM »

MILTA, again, you take the reward for beautiful pictures, you bring a glory to the flowers!!!!  I love to see these pictures, and thank you from the bottom of my heart to take the time.  That Monarch worked so hard, and you did her justice.

Parsley flowers is so attractive to many beneficial insects, I cannot tell the myriad of "bugs" I see enjoying what the parsley offers.  I have a mass of parsley that grows alongside one of my fences surrounding my yard, and it amazes me to see what insects these flowers entertain.  I currently have leeks that are in flower now....I will take pictures, because the bees LOVE the leek flowers, but that will have to wait until the rain stops, we have had two days of that liquid sunshine now, but oh it makes the gardens grow, and saves days and days of watering to water it all.  Beautiful, most wonderful day, lovin' this great life we live.  Cindi
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There are strange things done in the midnight sun by the men who moil for gold.  The Arctic trails have their secret tales that would make your blood run cold.  The Northern Lights have seen queer sights, but the queerest they ever did see, what the night on the marge of Lake Lebarge, I cremated Sam McGee.  Robert Service
MrILoveTheAnts
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« Reply #3 on: August 10, 2008, 11:59:33 PM »

Fennel and Parsley are going on the list for next year. Thanks all.

In more butterfly/moth news, I came across a Polyphemus moth this morning. Antheraea polyphemus.  It actually can't fly probably thanks to a bat or something so I brought it inside before the rain hit. Afterwards I decided to "Stage" some pictures. As much as I'd like to let it go, I know wings don't heal. Hopefully it was at the end of it's life cycle, I really love these huge moths and butterflies a lot.




Antheraea polyphemus moth host plants: Betula, (birch) Salix, (willow) Quercus, (oak) Acer, (maple) Carya, (hickory) Fagus, (beech) Gleditsia triacanthos, (honey locust) Juglans, (walnut) Pyrus, (pear and quince) Prunus, (plum, peach, apricot, cherry, etc.) Sassafras Citrus, (orange, grapefruits, lemons, limes, etc.) Ulmus americana, (American elm). I actually have a Pear and Nectarine tree out in the yard. Assuming it's a girl and mated, I'll try to see if she'll lay eggs on my trees.

In a bit of negative news about all this butterfly stuff, I found a cutworm or armyworm in my corn! How Dare Them!


Edit: not an IO Moth, changed to Polyphemus moth (Antheraea polyphemus)
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Cindi
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« Reply #4 on: August 11, 2008, 12:10:02 AM »

MILTA.....wow!!!  What more can I say....those silks falling amongst the corn kernels was magnificent, let alone the picture of the larvae, holy smokin' carumba.....bring those pictures on, lovin' every moment, through my mind's eye -- and the butterfly, say no more.  Beautiful, most awesome of these days, Cindi
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There are strange things done in the midnight sun by the men who moil for gold.  The Arctic trails have their secret tales that would make your blood run cold.  The Northern Lights have seen queer sights, but the queerest they ever did see, what the night on the marge of Lake Lebarge, I cremated Sam McGee.  Robert Service
annette
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« Reply #5 on: August 11, 2008, 12:55:28 AM »

I enjoy your photos so much and look forward to them. Did you know that Howland Blackiston who wrote Beekeeping for Dummies, is searching for a new photo for his revised addition of beekeeping for dummies.

Please, oh please, take many photos and send them to him to see if he picks them. He has posted on this forum that he is searching for new photos and wants members to send him photos. Find the link on this forum and read what he wants in a photo. You get paid.

Sincerely
Annette
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Cindi
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« Reply #6 on: August 11, 2008, 11:23:01 AM »

Annette, I tried to find that post but couldn't find it, do you remember what forum it was in?  Tell us more, have that beautiful, most wonderful of day of days, Cindi
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There are strange things done in the midnight sun by the men who moil for gold.  The Arctic trails have their secret tales that would make your blood run cold.  The Northern Lights have seen queer sights, but the queerest they ever did see, what the night on the marge of Lake Lebarge, I cremated Sam McGee.  Robert Service
annette
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« Reply #7 on: August 11, 2008, 12:37:58 PM »

Annette, I tried to find that post but couldn't find it, do you remember what forum it was in?  Tell us more, have that beautiful, most wonderful of day of days, Cindi


Here it is all you wonderful photographers

http://forum.beemaster.com/index.php/topic,17085.msg125862.html#new

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Cindi
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« Reply #8 on: August 12, 2008, 12:32:14 PM »

Annette, you are a sweeeet girl, thank you, I had missed that post somehow, bad me...... Wink Smiley Smiley Smiley have the most awesomely wonderful day, Cindi
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There are strange things done in the midnight sun by the men who moil for gold.  The Arctic trails have their secret tales that would make your blood run cold.  The Northern Lights have seen queer sights, but the queerest they ever did see, what the night on the marge of Lake Lebarge, I cremated Sam McGee.  Robert Service
MrILoveTheAnts
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« Reply #9 on: August 17, 2008, 12:02:02 AM »

Other Milkweed plants have been marked by the Monarchs passing by.


On the other plants though they've already hatched. They say the flapping of a butterflies wings makes hurricanes in China. I shutter to think what waves of destruction the chewing of these little guys must be causing.



Occasionally Milkweed get does get more than just caterpillars. Massive beetle infestations sometimes occur on loan plants and mostly due to their lack of pheromones to attract a mate. The beetles simple meet at these plants instead. Well that hasn't happened yet, though I know people who have such infestations. What my plants did get though were these orange colored Milkweed Aphids. Aphids are usually very select in their host just as the caterpillars are.


Naturally with Aphids comes lady bugs which I have seen but not yet photographed. I don't know if they eat the caterpillars too but as a precaution I've brought one of the little guys inside.
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Jessaboo
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« Reply #10 on: August 17, 2008, 12:49:10 PM »

More great pics -

I have the beetle infestation you speak of! I will try to post a few pics. They are actually quite amazing and totally mimic the seeds of the milkweed in their placement and the way they layer themselves together. From just a foot or so away you would be hard pressed to say if they are seeds or beetles.

I also have the aphids - I am not so crazy about them.

On the plus side, I had monarchs mating yesterday and hanging out around my swamp milkweed so I am hopeful that eggs are not far off.

Have you had any success growing swamp milkweed or butterfly weed from its seeds?

- Jess
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Jessaboo
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« Reply #11 on: August 17, 2008, 02:54:35 PM »

Here are my milkweed bug pics. My photographic skills don't nearly match Mr.ILTA but I thought some of you might be interested in these little critters. I have both small and large milkweed bugs (true bugs) as well as the milkweed beetle. What you see here are several stages of the milkweed bugs from baby to adult.

Here are the seeds:


Here are the bugs:


Closer:


Here are bugs and seeds:


And one the hubby took that shows the way they layer/camouflage themselves a little better. When they were a little smaller the effect was really stunning. Now that they are growing up it is a bit easier to tell that they are not seeds.:


- Jess
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Cindi
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« Reply #12 on: August 17, 2008, 03:17:21 PM »

Jess, well I think you got some pretty great pictures going on there, beautiful, but man oh man, what a freaking UGILEEEE true bug!!!  Beautiful day in this great life, Cindi
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There are strange things done in the midnight sun by the men who moil for gold.  The Arctic trails have their secret tales that would make your blood run cold.  The Northern Lights have seen queer sights, but the queerest they ever did see, what the night on the marge of Lake Lebarge, I cremated Sam McGee.  Robert Service
MrILoveTheAnts
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« Reply #13 on: August 26, 2008, 03:37:46 PM »

Laying Monarchs are common now. I usually see one every few days come by and drop eggs on a few of the plants. The Swamp Milkweed seems to work best. The caterpillars from the first and second batch have all started maturing. Mostly medium sized caterpillars are all that's left though. There is a single Large one who's been eating leaves daily. This one vanished today so either a bird got it or it's formed a cocoon I've yet to spot.






In another part of the yard is a plant I've been trying to get rid of. The dark knight butterfly bush and I don't want it because it's not native. However a recent picture I took has a design quality to it. Don't go thinking it's a good nectar plant either, this is the first honey bee I've seen on it all year. People who have success with bees on these plants tend to have 5 or 6 of them fully grown forming a hedge of these invasive weeds.
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MrILoveTheAnts
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« Reply #14 on: September 23, 2008, 02:54:26 PM »

Well I thought I was done for the year with this but apparently not. One of the caterpillars survived and made a cocoon on the mint plants down below the milkweed.




Naturally I tried to pick it up for a better shot and to see if it was a boy or girl. Turns out it's a boy from the spots on the wings but none of my photos show this feature.




I placed it down in a sunnier spot on a coneflower but he attempted to fly shortly after and landed on the grass.


So I moved him once again to a higher spot. This time on our recently planted Nectarine tree.



Later on he attempted to fly again but ended up swiftly landing on a much higher tree.



Moments later he was gone.
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Shawn
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« Reply #15 on: September 24, 2008, 06:07:26 PM »

Just wanted to share a couple of pictures of the butterflys that moved in to the plants. Not sure what kind they are but there were lots of them and only one monarch. They were are all enjoying the hyssops along with the bees. The picture with the dog in it was used to scare the butterflys off so people could see how many were on the flower. Not very good at getting close clear shots but if you look close enough you can count the blurs. Sorry.







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MrILoveTheAnts
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« Reply #16 on: September 24, 2008, 08:26:04 PM »

Those might be Painted Lady butterflies (Vanessa cardui). Very wide spread with a huge arsenal of host plants.

Aster family, asteraceae
1. Borage
2. Sunflower
3. Malva sylvestris - High mallow
4. Malva parviflora - cheeseweed
5. Lavatera maritima - tree mallow
6. Thistles

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derrick1p1
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« Reply #17 on: September 25, 2008, 03:13:14 PM »

I have to chime in and compliment you on these photos.  I'm not a photographer or even a photo hobbiest, but I must say these are impressive.  What a great thing to see when I'd much rather be outdoors enjoying this great fall weather.  Thanks for the pics!

Derrick
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annette
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« Reply #18 on: September 25, 2008, 05:48:40 PM »

Keep them coming because boy oh boy do I love these photos. Makes me happy!!!
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Shawn
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« Reply #19 on: September 26, 2008, 06:37:19 PM »

I think you are right on them being painted butterflys. We ordered a butterfly kit for the kids and I think those were the same kind.
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Cindi
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« Reply #20 on: September 30, 2008, 09:32:06 AM »

There is no words that can be used to describe how beautiful I think all these pictures are, absolutely unimaginable!!!  Have the most wonderful and awesome day, Cindi
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There are strange things done in the midnight sun by the men who moil for gold.  The Arctic trails have their secret tales that would make your blood run cold.  The Northern Lights have seen queer sights, but the queerest they ever did see, what the night on the marge of Lake Lebarge, I cremated Sam McGee.  Robert Service
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« Reply #21 on: September 30, 2008, 12:39:45 PM »

Well, here are some more pictures I took today, 10:00 a.m. It was still cool out so there were not so may butterflies around. Hope you enjoy. I also found if you enlarge the screen before the picture loads you will get a larger picture, dont know why.







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BjornBee
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« Reply #22 on: October 24, 2008, 09:36:59 PM »

There are some great photos in this thread.

This was our first year with raising butterflies. Here are a few pics. We will certainly being doing it every year.









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Cindi
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« Reply #23 on: October 25, 2008, 10:25:48 AM »

Shawn, some beauty of pics there, you too Bjorn.  Bjorn you children are adorable, what lovely little smiles as they gaze upon their beautiful little butterflies, thanks for sharing.  Have a most wonderful and awesome day, Cindi
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There are strange things done in the midnight sun by the men who moil for gold.  The Arctic trails have their secret tales that would make your blood run cold.  The Northern Lights have seen queer sights, but the queerest they ever did see, what the night on the marge of Lake Lebarge, I cremated Sam McGee.  Robert Service
MrILoveTheAnts
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« Reply #24 on: November 02, 2008, 04:25:42 PM »

Even if you're not trying to have a butterfly garden, chances are you've seen these two.

The Woolly Bear Caterpillar


And The Leopard Caterpillar


The Woolly Bear caterpillar has a red/brown stripe in the middle that varies from one to the other. Legend has it you can measure how long winter will be from this stripe. Personally I prefer groundhog and shadow test but it's fun to believe. According to "Caterpillars of Eastern North America" by David L. Wagner they're one of the few caterpillars that can eat virtually anything. But they are more commonly found eating Nettle, Grass, Dandelion and Lettuce. The adults measure 5 cm in length and overwinter in wooden structures before turning into probably one of the plainest and boring looking brown moths ever.



The Leopard Caterpillar is probably just as common now, and eats similar low growing non-woody plants. This one pictured below probably hatched out on the New Jersey state flower, The Common Violet, Viola sororia. I've had a patch of this plant growing here for years and it's somewhat invasive in full sun. But you really can't complain about a 6 inch ground cover that doesn't require mowing. The Leopard Caterpillar is a bit bigger, about 7.5 cm long. It over winters in wooden structures, and the resulting moth is actually kind of pretty and worth Googling.


And while we're on the topic I may as well mention that I've seen the Brown-Hooded Owlet feeding on some Asters while in Delaware. Species name is Cucullia convexipennis. They're a very long caterpillar and actually eat the flower petals to Asters and Goldenrods. The moth is another brown one that blends in with the crowd ... and trees, but they do have a splash of red on their back.


Also I'd like to thank Jessaboo for recommending Caterpillars of Eastern North America to me. And for identifying the Brown-Hooded Owlet. I recommend this book for anyone on the east coast who's interested in caterpillars. A word of warning though, it's 500 pages long and might be overpowering someone not familiar with IDing by Subfamily, Genus, Species. The book itself admits that some genera just can't be ID'd through pictures alone. But it's a fairly complete list otherwise, has wonderful pictures, and even names common host plants for each of them. The one place this book could only improve is providing a little more information each specimen. But they could only write so much on each page.
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Cindi
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« Reply #25 on: November 02, 2008, 07:35:55 PM »

MILTA, I've said this before and I'll say it again -- these pictures that you bring to us to look at are beyond the most beautiful of the beautiful.  You keep workin' hard on bringing these pictures here, trust me, they don't go unnoticed, I am a follower of your pics, hee, hee!!!  Maybe you have began the beginning of a MILTA picture-looking-at-cult, hee, hee.  Have the most great and awesome day, Cindi
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There are strange things done in the midnight sun by the men who moil for gold.  The Arctic trails have their secret tales that would make your blood run cold.  The Northern Lights have seen queer sights, but the queerest they ever did see, what the night on the marge of Lake Lebarge, I cremated Sam McGee.  Robert Service
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