The Giant Swallowtails graced my backyard with a dance of summertime as they nectared on my Mexican Sunflower bushes
It’s been a while since I’ve written about the roses and butterflies in the backyard. While I love to go cool places to photograph birds, sometimes the best opportunities come in your own backyard. As frequent readers of my blog know, I have a bit of a green thumb, and I’ve landscaped our garden with hummingbirds and butterflies in mind. I used to have lots of rosebushes, as described on my Backyard Roses page, but I became increasingly bothered by the number of pesticides and fungicides that I had to use to keep the bushes healthy. Those things just aren’t good for the birds and insects that are part of a healthy backyard ecosystem. So I ended up downsizing the rose garden to just a few bushes, including one of my favorites, ‘Gold Medal.’ I’m frequently asked if the dew and raindrops on my flower photos are natural or staged. They are absolutely natural! That’s the great part of having flowers in your yard – you can photograph them in the early hours of the morning before the dew dries. (The truth be told, all my staged dewdrops bead too perfectly and look fake!) I was out fertilizing my rosebushes when I noticed […]
I noticed this Monarch caterpillar on my milkweed today. All the leaves of the milkweed had been eaten, and just the stems were left. Then I looked down the flower bed to the next clump of milkweed. Five more caterpillars, all eating hungrily away! That’s why I grow milkweed.
Our backyard has been a-flutter with butterflies in the past couple of weeks. We’ve had sulphurs, swallowtails, monarchs, and skippers galore. I took my recently-upgraded Canon 7D to the backyard to test out the new firmware. Unfortunately the camera now seems to randomly freeze up on me…but the butterfly cooperated and let me pop out the battery while he waited! :-p
This past weekend we had a bunch of butterflies fluttering around the backyard. They like my nectar plants! This one spent a lot of time sipping from my red pentas plants.
It seemed as if there were very few butterflies early on in the summer months. Now they are all over. This one was enjoying my milkweed plant, a host plant for the monarchs. The caterpillars will devour all the leaves on this plant as they grow.
It was cloudy this evening, but this monarch butterfly didn’t care. He was nectaring on my milkweed, then he (she?) also seemed to be laying eggs. I actually haven’t seen many caterpillars in the yard this summer. It’s been a slow summer for butterflies. Maybe I’ll start to see more caterpillars soon.
After spending so much time photographing around Florida this summer, it was nice to spend a day in my own yard. Sadly I was removing some of my rosebushes…I’m tired of using so many pesticides to keep the roses healthy. I’m replacing them with plants that attract hummingbirds. My mom’s had success in attracting hummers to their yard, and I’d like to do the same. It was pretty hot today, but once I got busy, the heat didn’t really bother me. I took my camera out with me and photographed several butterflies who visited the yard. It’s nice to see them again — they haven’t been around much this summer!
This Black Swallowtail spent several hours nectaring on Carla’s pink penta bush this weekend. I didn’t realize one plant held enough nectar to keep a butterfly feeding for so long.
A Giant Swallowtail came to nectar on the Mexican Sunflower today, in honor of Rich’s b-day.
My Mexican Sunflower bush is turning into a butterfly magnet. Every time I look out into the backyard there is a butterfly nectaring on its flowers. Monarchs, swallowtails, sulphurs, fritillaries….it’s fun to have an active yard! :) These pictures were taken after a nice summer shower (yes! rain! we finally got some!) The butterfly must have been especially hungry after it rained almost all day. She spent at least half an hour nectaring.
I love how tall my Mexican Sunflower plant has gotten this year! It’s covered in bright orange flowers that make the yard so cheerful and seem to be pretty appealing to our butterfly visitors.
The butterflies are back in the yard – it’s getting to be pretty common to look out back and see one or two fluttering around. I guess they like the butterfly plants that I got for them at Lukas!
It’s fun to see butterflies returning to the backyard, even as the birds are starting to find their food elsewhere. My feeders are staying fuller these days, and we only have resident house finches, mockingbirds, cardinals, and doves. Even the grackles and red-winged blackbirds are becoming fewer and fewer. So it was nice to welcome this Red Admiral butterfly to my black-eyed Susan bush this evening.
It was just last week that I was taking pictures of these two caterpillars on my milkweed plant. Tonight I looked out and saw an orange fluttering in the backyard in the general area of the milkweed. I went out and found this monarch butterfly, with its wings still not completely unfolded after its emergence from its chrysalis.
I saw the first of this year’s monarch caterpillars on our milkweed plants this afternoon. There are two fairly large caterpillars. I suspect they have a few more days before they form their chrysalides.
The monarchs have been visiting the backyard daily for the last week or so, laying their final batch of eggs for the year. I wonder what the neighbors thought if they saw me lying down doing strange contortions with the camera, trying to get close-ups of the eggs? :)
‘Gold Medal’ is starting to bloom again and the butterflies like the blooms almost as much as I do. :)
Caterpillar yesterday, chrysalis today…we have another monarch in the making! (and if you notice a crazy person lurking in her ruellia bushes with a flashlight at 10pm, don’t call the police please…it’s just me, checking on my chrysalides!)
It’s always fun to see a new visitor in the garden. Today’s was a Gray Hairstreak butterfly. Too bad it didn’t choose a prettier rose on which to pose!