Phlutters – Backyard Butterflies Part II


“O LORD, what a variety of things you have made! In wisdom you have made them all. The earth is full of your creatures.” ~ Psalm 104:24, NLT

I ended Part I of ‘Backyard Butterflies’ with a photo of this Monarch Chrysalis. Since that post, the butterfly has gone through its metamorphosis and emerged.

I didn’t see the butterfly break out of its yellow-green chrysalis, but I did notice it soon after.

After it dried off a bit, the butterfly began to explore the nearby garden. I watched throughout the day as the Monarch became acquainted with the sweet nectar in my garden.

The dahlia is part of Cee’s Flower of the Day.

Phlutters -Backyard Butterflies Part I

After a slow start, the backyard has been full of butterflies. One of the flashiest is the Monarch. The zinnias draw the Monarchs in to fill up on the nectar. They land on the flat surface of the disk and drink from the individual ray florets surrounding the center. While they are occupied they will often allow close-up viewing for photographs and video.

Another flower they love is Asclepias curassavica commonly known as ‘Silky Gold’ Milkweed. This flower and its leaves are a host plant for the monarch caterpillar.

This milkweed floret is part of Cee’s Flower of the Day Challenge. 

The caterpillars are poisonous to birds and other wildlife after eating the milkweed. The milkweed contains toxic cardenolides which keep some predators, but not all, away.

A week or two ago when I cut back a rose bush I uncovered a monarch chyrsalis on my siding.

Soon I found the newly hatched caterpillar clinging to the wall.

He dropped down to a mint plant and finished drying his wings. After a few hours he took his first flight to the upper branches of a pine tree.

A day or two later I spotted another chrysalis on the underside of a concrete lion statue I have on my patio. I’ll keep a close watch and see if I can witness the miracle as one emerges from the chrysalis.

Pheathers & Phlutters – On the Wing

I was able to photograph a few favorites this past weekend. The butterfly with the beautiful orange wings is an Eastern Comma Butterfly. I don’t see many of these and was pleased to find it posing prettily in my front yard.

Cabbage White butterflies are plentiful, but not easy to photograph with wings outstretched.

I saw the first Monarch Butterfly of the season at Fortescue Beach. I didn’t know I had captured it in flight until I downloaded the files. This photo is part of Skywatch.

I love the seagulls in Fortescue. They haven’t learned the bad habits of raiding picnic hampers and snack bags. In neighboring beach towns the gulls are formidable. Never walk across the boardwalk with uncovered French Fries. You will be dive-bombed and might lose them.

The funnel on top of the piling is there to keep the gulls off. The pilings without funnels are usually occupied by a gull.

I watched this Osprey fly over the bay, descend, and come up with a fish in its talons. They are excellent at fishing.

I enjoyed my weekend full of flyers of all types…except maybe the Greenhead Fly who bit my ankle. That flyer is now lying beneath the sand I kicked over it after I swatted it. Happily, the Greenhead was a solo flyer, and no others visited me while I fished off the beach.

Phlutters – Small Miracles Part II

Part II of my small miracles day doesn’t have the beauty of the newly hatched Swallowtail butterfly, but it will help facilitate more miracles. I grow dill and other host plants for Swallowtail butterflies each year. This season I was determined to also grow plants for Monarchs.

I have managed to sprout some milkweed seeds by the winter-sowing method. Because I know the milkweed has a tap-root I chose to sow the seeds in peat pots and enclosed them in a recycled food container during the winter months. They have sprouted. I will get them in the ground as soon as possible so that the tap-root will not be disturbed and the plants will have a better chance at survival.

Asclepias syriaca: Common milkweed is the host plant for Monarch butterflies.

“Monarchs cannot survive without milkweed; their caterpillars only eat milkweed plants (Asclepias spp.), and monarch butterflies need milkweed to lay their eggs. With shifting land management practices, we have lost much milkweed from the landscape.” ~ Monarch Joint Venture

I know the assessment of Monarch Joint Venture is true. I can name three parcels of land within a mile or two of my home where I once saw milkweed. All three have been built upon, weed whacked, or decimated by the relentless need to clear land for business purposes. I’m sure this same problem is rampant across the country.

Due to the loss of habitat for monarchs, this year I collected a bit of seed from a milkweed patch to grow in my gardens. I’ll be planting the sprouts soon so that the long root can develop unhindered. I also have several milkweed seeds in my freezer. I’ll plant a few in my garden beds and also find some areas near me where they might have a chance to grow. If you want to participate in helping Monarch butterflies survive and thrive you can find some good tips here: Monarch Butterfly Garden.