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Milkweed Madness

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

I've shown you a little of what goes on in the cultivated flower beds. Well, out in the meadow, which is just impossibly rich and diverse, it's a party all the time. If I had nothing else to do I'd be out there with my camera most mornings.

 The butterfly weed Asclepias tuberosa  was fabulous this year. It loved the extra rain, and it loves the way Bill mows around the thickest patches with the old tractor.
 Great spangled fritillaries think it's keen. It was overall a very light butterfly year here...many fewer individuals and low diversity in comparison to most years. I've heard as much from many friends.  Lots of rain early on may have suppressed hatching. I don't know. I just know there aren't as many butterflies around as there ought to be. It usually looks like a scene from Snow White around here.

It helps having butterflies' favorite flowers. Common milkweed A. syriaca is just irresistible. It, along with its more glamorous butterfly weed cousin, is one of my most valued garden plants. And out-of-garden plants.
Above: a beautiful female great spangled fritillary. She's more chocolatey than the male.



A Hoary Edge partakes (below). This is a less common relative of silver-spotted skipper. As you can see the white is more diffuse on the Hoary Edge--not a well-defined spot as on the SSSK. I would imagine lots of hoary edges get overlooked.


 I like this crazy shot of a fritillary feeding and a bumblebee departing. Sort of surreal.

 I like to remind people who wonder at my fondness for common milkweed that it's a treasured exotic in the best English gardens. And for good reason! Find me a plant, any plant, that offers so much to butterflies and bees, and in such a spectacular way. And that's without even mentioning the monarch brood plant factor.
                                                               All hail Milkweeds!

9 comments:

love the milkweeds! I have 3 different varieties in my Monarch Waystation habitat and plans to add as many more as I can whenever possible.

We have Asclepias tuberosa in our butterfly garden here at Anahuac NWR. But we also have the much more common Ascelepias viridis which also grows along the roadsides in between getting mowed down by the county mowers.

We have very few butterflies this year also due, I think to the lack of flowers and even host plants caused by an extreme drought. But our passion flower vines are growing and blooming so we do have lots of gulf fritillaries which use it as a host plant.

And the last little bit of parsley I had growing in a pot fed 5 black swallowtail caterpillars.

You mean there are people who don't like milkweed. Gosh I Love that orange, which reminds me, I gotta go water my new orange milkweed, it didn't look to good this morning. Sob
Kathy in Delray Beach

Posted by Anonymous August 30, 2011 at 6:59 AM

How Wonderful they are!! Very beautiful butterflies and flowers. ^o^ This are butterfly garden right? I love in it

Common milkweeds smells so heavenly too.

Have your kids ever read "Surviving the Applewhites"? One of my favorite books ever, Great Spangled fritillaries are one of the main "characters".

I just saw a traffic median filled with common milkweed today on the edge of Schenley Park. See, red lights are good for something. I had never noticed what was growing there before.

Flipping through "Mother Earth News" this evening I ran across a picture of a very familiar-looking Boston terrier facing down a snake. The photo credit revealed the rare truth that I was right! Kudos, Chet!

Ah, you're a sharp one, Chris, although who could forget that little mug? The Google Image search (they Googled "terrier and snake" brought me and M.E.N. together. I was less than thrilled with the piece it illustrated, as you might imagine, though I thought the editors handled the (dopey) question well. I should blog that. I should blog everything. Thanks for your note!

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