Monday, August 3, 2009

Butterflies and an assortment of unrelated stuff

Butterfly sightings have been rare this season. Record breaking rainfall and extremely cold temperatures have really decreased populations. Looking out a window on a midsummer day, I can usually see 4 or 5 tiger swallowtails dancing among the phlox blooms. Normally Cabbage Whites cover the Blue Fortune agastache all day long. In years past I could always count on fluttering monarchs above the coneflowers and skippers everywhere. The flowers planted especially for butterflies seem forlorn, waiting out there for visitors who never come.

I safaried out in search of something alive and colorful. The first thing I encountered was a dragonfly or damselfly which I cannot identify. It wasn't shy and continue to lounge in the sunshine on an Autumn Joy sedum while I took pictures. I don't see these often on the farm so it was interesting to study one up close. These creatures are natural predators of mosquitoes so I wish I had more.

A fluttering movement caught my eye a little further along the border. My Volcano phlox and managed to lure a single Tiger Swallowtail in for midmorning snack. These are one of the showiest butterflies we see here in this area. Beautiful color, design and what a graceful shape to the wings.

Skippers are usually so plentiful they can be seen skipping above the grass almost everywhere. Today there was only one, wings a little ragged and worse for wear. He was absorbed in studying the just budding phlox David and posed for me while I took his picture from several angles.

Venturing out farther into the pasture I found this little Summer Azure on a Queen Ann's lace bloom. He wasn't shy and let me take several photos.

There were two monarchs bouncing from red clover to clover bloom along the lane but they wanted nothing to do with photography. I finally gave up stalking them and pretended I never wanted a monarch photo anyway.

Coming back to the house, a little disappointed that I hadn't seen many butterflies, a Tawny Emperor was waiting for me on the Pagoda Dogwood. I begged and pleaded but he would't open his lovely wings for a photo so I made do with this one. (Those red stems once held the tree's black berries but they are gone to the birds or fallen in the hosta bed).

Thank you MissSherry in Mississippi for helping me identify the Tawny Emperor and the Summer Azure. Neither butterfly was in my field guide. And thank you Jeff for recommending the Kaufman and Glassberg field guides which are more complete than mine. Both MissSherry and Jeff hang out on Garden Webs butterfly forum so if you ever have a question or just want to share photos, go visit them.

I'd also like to recommend a site to anyone who loves looking at butterfly and bird photos--really GOOD butterfly and bird photos. Abe Lincoln's Birds is a friendly place to visit, see some birds close up, and read some snippets of personal experiences photographing wildlife.

Have a great week everyone and I'll post again Thursday.


Sherri said...

Marnie, aren't dragonflies interesting creatures! The colors on their wings and their bodies just amaze me. I'm glad they eat mosquitoes-that is why I've seen so many in my courtyard. I love the butterfly on your pink phlox-just beautiful!! Thanks for sharing!

Monica the Garden Faerie said...

Hi Marnie, I've noticed the same thing about butterflies--I've seen way fewer this year than others, and I've seen a lot more dragonflies. BTW, that's a dragonfly--they can rest with their wings flat out (open/down) like that whereas damselflies keep their wings up/together.

tina said...

Lovely post Marnie. I was right there with you stalking them-glad you got the photos! They are beautiful.

Rose said...

Like you, Marnie, I have lamented the lack of butterflies this season. I had wondered whether the cool and rainy weather had anything to do with this. You managed to take some lovely photos nevertheless. The Tiger Swallowtail certainly is one of the most beautiful butterflies around here. I have seen a Monarch or two and a black butterfly--that I can't remember the name of right now--but neither lands long enough for me to take a photo. I have noticed more dragonflies this year, though, probably because of our wet summer.

I see you have Janet Evanovich's latest book in your sidebar. I finished reading her last one a few weeks ago and thoroughly enjoyed it! I'll be definitely checking out this one as well.

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Sherri, I need to take my camera to visit my brother. He has a big pond and thousands of dragonflies.

Monica, thank you so much. I tried to ID the creature but couldn't even pinpoint which species he was. Another wonderful fact learned while blogging;)

Hi Tina, the monarchs were giving me a really hard time. I guess we look like giant butterfly eaters to them;)

Rose, I was listening to a garden talk show on the radio Sunday and everyone was calling in saying 'where are the butterflies?' I can always count an a Stephanie Plum book to make me laugh out loud. Very funny and original.


JC said...

I usually have lots of butterflys in my back yard. So far this Summer, I've only noticed a few

And, the dragonflys are less too

We've had a really hot July so maybe that's why

Tatyana@MySecretGarden said...

Lucky you! I haven't seen one single dragonfly in my garden yet. Not so many butterflies, either! Can you send some of your creatures our way?

Anonymous said...

Thank you for stopping at my birds blog and for the comment you left about the Baltimore Oriole.

It was super cold here this morning. More like November than August. I wonder how long it will take to get back to hot and steamy weather that we normally have?

Help make history. Is it possible to get 10,000 visitors on my new blog, Pick a Peck of Pixels? If you like it, please either become a Follower or leave a comment. Help me Make History.
Pick a Peck of Pixels

Susie said...

Hey Marnie, I think for someone who hasn't seen many butterflies this year, you caught some great pics. Thanks for sharing them.

Randy said...

I love dragonflies. Our butterflies have been absent lately. The hummers are here in good numbers finally.

ShySongbird said...

Our Summer hasn't been too good for butterflies either, we have had so much rain lately. I love the photo of the Tiger Swallowtail on your very pretty pink Phlox and the dragonfly is lovely too. I had to laugh at you stalking the Monarch and 'pretending' you 'didn't want a photo anyway', it can be very frustrating trying to 'capture' butterflies and I suspect we can all look a little desperate at times ;) as we race along with our cameras behind a rapidly disappearing butterfly.

BeadedTail said...

I've been noticing more small white butterflies this year (I don't know what they are called) but not any other type of butterfly. Last Saturday at the rose garden a Tiger Swallowtail was flying around and it was so beautiful. It wouldn't land though so I didn't get a picture.

Angel says thanks for the birthday wishes today!

marmee said...


thanks for sharing your butterfly captures...ours have been few and far between too. i really miss them. we have some but so fewer than usual.
i have been to abe lincoln's bird blog and he does have some great photos. i don't know if you have ever visited my sister's blog but she had a post on her butterflies emerging that was fascintating. give it a look see:

one thing i am not in short supply gold finches. they are just eating up the nyger seed so fast.
happy august.

Cheryl said...

Hi Marnie.....the dragonfly is lovely....we get a lot here due to the wildlife ponds dotted in all the fields that surround me. I am often bitten by mosi's so I am happy the dragons and damsels are about. I also have bats, so that helps to.

I love your is always sad when summer passes and barely a sighting....
Don't you feel a little sorry for them when they are tattered and torn.....I feel like that sometimes, do you?

A lovely post....enjoy the week and hopefully more butterflies will come and visit your pretty garden.....

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi JC, I think butterflies like sunny, dry weather so maybe you will see more in August.

Hi Abe, this weekend the heat will be settling in here. Don't know for how long. Personally I hate it when the temps get over 90.

Susie, so few compared to past years. I'm happy to have any tho.

Jamie and Randy, that's great to have hummers. Maybe the butterflies will increase in August.


Balisha said...

What a nice collection of butterflies. My kids used to call them Flutterbyes.I haven't seen very many this year.

Roses and Lilacs said...

ShySongbird, well I had to tell him I didn't want his photo. Couldn't let him think he'd won;) Sounds like you are in the same situation we are in. Saw a monarch caterpillar Sunday so they are coming back a little.

Hi BeadedTail, I like the little white ones too but they are hard to photograph--for me anyway.

Hi Marmee, those finches do pick the most expensive foods;) Hope we see more butterflies in the next few weeks.

Hi Cheryl, I do feel sorry for the butterflies with torn and battered wings. It usually means they don't have many more days or flowers to enjoy in their short lives. I like seeing the bats in the evening too. It's beyond my photographic expertise to get a photo of them flying.

Tatyana, I've heard the weather is bad out your way. Lets hope next year will be better.


Chloe m said...

All so pretty, I love the dragonflies. Have you ever noticed they lose their color when they die?
Btw: I smelled a milkweed, you were right, they are fragrant!

Lisa at Greenbow said...

We have also realized we dont' have as many butterflies this year. I have been worried about this. I guess it is weather related. It is supposed to get hot and humid here the next few days. I will be hoping for more butterflies.

Your concern about the caladiums not growing due to the weather is correct. They are truly a tropical plant and like it hot.

Jann said...

A very nice day observing they who flit a bit! I was doing that very thing today on my latest drive out and about. Still no swallowtail photo but some day...

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

I just had to do a dragonfly ID search, where I found
this website
which can help ID your dragonfly. I can state with certainty that your dragonfly is not a green darner. It is beautiful, as are your photos.

beckie said...

I see Monica has already ID the dragonfly as such. There seem to be more of them this year and I think it is because of all the mosquitos. A good thing!

Your butterfly photos are wonderful. But it's sad there aren;t nmore of them this year. I miss seeing them in droves on the coneflowers.

I did a little research about my catepillers and I still think they are Monarch. The Tiger swallowtail caterpillers I found were different colors. I may not be finding the right one though, :) It's fun trying ti identify them isn't it? Maybe a warm fall will bring more beauties to our gardens.

Basil Becky said...

Thank you for visiting my site. I love the skippers,they love the oreganeo blooms.Sometimes they look like stars above the orgeano. Tonight as I worked in the garden, butterflies were all over the Joe Pye Weed. I was to far away to see what was there...that is a good task for tomorrow. Love your site!!! It inspires me.

sweetbay said...

The Swallowtail looks extra beautiful on that Phlox.

Anonymous said...

Butterflies have been slow to appear here too, but I've been preparing a post to show off the ones I have seen! You have some great, interesting visitors that I never see here. Gotta love the butterflies!

walk2write said...

Well, I don't think the cold weather or too much rainfall have had anything to do with our lack of butterflies here. Not sure what the reason is. Your photos are lovely, especially the ones that include your own flowers. I saw a swallowtail this morning like the one captured, but before I had a chance to snap its pic, Peanut scared it away, the little ratso!

Dawn said...

I did not know those are Tawny Emperors either, and I've seen only one yellow swallowtail here too. We usually have a bunch. Darn weather! Beautiful photos

Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Rosey, I almost never see dragonflies because I'm so far from any ponds or quiet water sources. A few of the milkweeds are still blooming here too.

Lisa, thanks for the info on my caladiums. Maybe they will perk up in the heat we expect next week.

Hi Jann, I really like your new header. I would like to get some photos of the less common butterflies that are found in this area. This is probably not the best year for that goal.

Thanks for the dragonfly id site MMD. I'll see if I can find my little golden guy.

Hi Beckie, it was just a guess on my part based on the plant your little caterpillar was on. I know monarchs can only survive on milkweed and tiger swallowtails are always on dill and fennel.


Roses and Lilacs said...

Hi Basil Becky, the butterflies are ignoring my Joe Pye right now. They seem to prefer the coneflowers, phlox and Blue Fortune agastache.

Hi SweetBay, they do make a beautiful combination.

MsRobin, it's fun to see the differences between the butterflies in my area and the ones on other blogger's sites.

Hi Balisha, kind of sad that there are so few this season.

Hi Walk2Write, I'm considering buying some camo to better sneak up on them;)

Hi Dawn, maybe next year will be a better one.


Anonymous said...

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walk2write said...

Marnie, I wonder if butterflies can hear. I'm considering putting a bell on Peanut. She's already got the camo.

GreensboroDailyPhoto said...

All right lilacs and roses. We're not lilacs and roses today, nor are we butterflies. However, we're flora and fauna-- nature, nature plus! Bee-there!

(The 8/4 post)

Roses and Lilacs said...

Walk2Write, I think they can hear but they wouldn't pay attention to a bell. It's movement and shadow they see/sense (or so I've been told).

Hi Jan, I will be there;)

Abe good luck with your project. You provide excellent photos and interesting information. You deserve the recognition.


Connie said...

Wow, great photos of some beautiful creatures. I am always fascinated by dragonflies....we rarely see them here.

Chris said...

Thanks for the beautiful pictures!

Corner Gardener Sue said...

I enjoyed your photos. I am finally starting to see a few butterflies other than the Monarch I've seen pretty much daily. The Monarch seems to greet me, flying in front of me, then going about its business.

When I have seen the Eastern Swallowtails and others, I haven't had my camera out. I'm thinking I need to go out the next time it's sunny, with my camera, and do some stalking like you did.

I found a copy of a Kaufman Focus Guide at a used bookstore last year, and recently found it while doing a little cleaning. I'm glad to see I still have my bookmarks to show the butterflies I've identified in there.

I hope the season is just a little late for them, and we see lots yet this summer and fall.

Becky said...

Lovely blog. I really have enjoyed looking at your animal photographs and the other interesting things on your site.

Keep up the good work for fighting for the rights of animals.


Beth said...

Hi Marnie:
That's one thing I haven't seen all summer in my garden - butterflies! Lots of bees though ... I wonder if cooler weather keeps them away.

Naturegirl said...

Loved your show of butterflies! I too have noticed that there's NOT as many coming to visit my butterfly garden. Nature-boy tore out my "butterflY bush" early in the Spring not relaizing what it was and I'm wondering if that was the main magnet..surely not..but I've not seen fact swallowtails have laid egss in my parsley in previous years but not this...hummmm? Perhaps it is the rainy summer and cooler temps.
I do have the hummingbirds though!!
Wishing you a beautiful day in your garden!

Gayle@Mountain Moma said...

Wow, you captured so many! The dragon fly is so dainty, I never thought of them being that till I really looked at your photo.