Gardening for Butterflies, Birds and Bees forum: January 2015 Butterflies, Moths & Larva

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Name: Melanie Long
Lutz, Florida (Zone 9b)
Larva tested, Pupa approved!
Butterflies Hummingbirder Birds Bee Lover Enjoys or suffers hot summers Region: Florida
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Bromeliad Native Plants and Wildflowers Forum moderator Plant Identifier
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mellielong
Jan 1, 2015 1:56 PM CST

Moderator

We came from here: The thread "December 2014 Butterflies, Moths & Larva" in Gardening for Butterflies, Birds and Bees forum

Well, it's pretty slow around here. The only butterfly I saw was one Cassius Blue that, as usual, would not stop. So it's larva and chrysalis day!

I found this really funny. You know that Monarch that came out on Christmas Eve? Well, another caterpillar thought that was also a really good spot to pupate and so now I have this.

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And a milkweed with three caterpillars! I moved two to other plants but left the middle one alone because I had a sense he might be thinking about pupating.

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And I have many other large Monarch cats making frass to fertilize my soil.

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And I have a medium size cat. Giant Milkweed leaves are big, FYI.

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And a little guy is snacking on my flowers. I hate when when they do that, but you can't stop them.

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Moderator of the best forum on ATP, the Butterflies, Bees, and Birds forum!
Name: Ann ~Heat zn 9, Sunset
North Fl. (Zone 8b)
Garden Sages Native Plants and Wildflowers Xeriscape Organic Gardener I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level
Butterflies Charter ATP Member Plant Identifier Region: Florida Dog Lover Birds
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flaflwrgrl
Jan 1, 2015 9:39 PM CST
It seems I lost the butterflies thread for the entire month of December. I don't know what happened. Anyway, I remembered to look for the butterfly thread & here you are! Hurray! Hurray! Hurray! Hurray!

*Blush* *Blush* I had been wondering why it was so quiet. *Blush* *Blush* *Blush*
I am a strong believer in the simple fact is that what matters in this life is how we treat others. I think that's what living is all about. Not what I've done in my life but how I've treated others.
~~ Sharon Brown ~~



Name: Melanie Long
Lutz, Florida (Zone 9b)
Larva tested, Pupa approved!
Butterflies Hummingbirder Birds Bee Lover Enjoys or suffers hot summers Region: Florida
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Bromeliad Native Plants and Wildflowers Forum moderator Plant Identifier
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mellielong
Jan 2, 2015 2:42 PM CST

Moderator

Hey, I saw a butterfly today! Actually, I saw two but those Gulf Frits are not interested in stopping. And then it went over my neighbor's fence so it was a lost cause. But I did scare up this Zebra Longwing. Good to see one still around. They can be very affected by the cold. We had two bad winters in a row a few years back and I went an entire year without seeing a Zebra Longwing in the wild. So that was a little scary!

I scared it up around my plumbago but then it settled in on my Duranta (aka Golden Dewdrop). Some nurseries try to sell this as a native plant, but it's not. Still, it's not invasive and the butterflies like it. I bought one because USF Botanical Gardens has a huge one growing on a trellis by their plant shop. I've seen it just covered in butterflies and knew I had to have one.

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Just like I had to have a Mexican Flame Vine after seeing one at USF. I don't think they have theirs anymore because I don't remember seeing it the last few times I've been there. I kind of thought mine would have gone dormant by now, but I guess it hasn't gotten cold enough to stop it.

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Moderator of the best forum on ATP, the Butterflies, Bees, and Birds forum!
Name: Ann ~Heat zn 9, Sunset
North Fl. (Zone 8b)
Garden Sages Native Plants and Wildflowers Xeriscape Organic Gardener I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level
Butterflies Charter ATP Member Plant Identifier Region: Florida Dog Lover Birds
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flaflwrgrl
Jan 2, 2015 3:48 PM CST
The ZLW looks really neat against the orange/red of the flame vine blooms. One sets off the other to perfection.
I am a strong believer in the simple fact is that what matters in this life is how we treat others. I think that's what living is all about. Not what I've done in my life but how I've treated others.
~~ Sharon Brown ~~



central Illinois
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Hosted a Not-A-Raffle-Raffle Plant Database Moderator Garden Ideas: Level 2 Photo Contest Winner: 2014
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
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jmorth
Jan 3, 2015 11:49 AM CST
Nice zebras!
Nothing that's been done can ever be changed.
Name: Melanie Long
Lutz, Florida (Zone 9b)
Larva tested, Pupa approved!
Butterflies Hummingbirder Birds Bee Lover Enjoys or suffers hot summers Region: Florida
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Bromeliad Native Plants and Wildflowers Forum moderator Plant Identifier
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mellielong
Jan 3, 2015 12:41 PM CST

Moderator

Well, it was only one Zebra, to be honest. I just chased it from plant to plant. Hilarious! I just went out to get some lunch and saw that Gulf Frit flying around again. It still doesn't want to sit still, though. At least something is flying; it's a lot sunnier today than it has been so that helps.
Moderator of the best forum on ATP, the Butterflies, Bees, and Birds forum!
Name: Melanie Long
Lutz, Florida (Zone 9b)
Larva tested, Pupa approved!
Butterflies Hummingbirder Birds Bee Lover Enjoys or suffers hot summers Region: Florida
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Bromeliad Native Plants and Wildflowers Forum moderator Plant Identifier
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mellielong
Jan 3, 2015 2:18 PM CST

Moderator

I went back outside because I was bored and there was quite a bit of activity. Granted, it's pretty warm outside for January. I have another Monarch in its "J". He's on the leaf in front of the previous chrysalis-maker, and a leaf behind the one with the empty chrysalis and the chrysalis that's about three days old. I don't know why they're all gravitating to that area. It makes me nervous! If a predator finds one, he'll find the others.

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Now, I was walking around the back of my property and was a little bit on the neighbor's property when I saw this great patch of tassel flower. You know, the one I'm always making fun of Select Seeds for selling. (Love Select Seeds, but it's a weed!) Anyway, it's a great weed for attracting smaller butterflies; I've seen it covered in Phaeon Crescents. But today it had a few visitors, only a few of which I could get photos of. I was trying to be discreet. You see, my previous neighbor had no problem with us on his property. But he died last spring and now his granddaughter (I think) and her boyfriend are living back there and they've been real jerks to some of the other neighbors. The cops have also been back there a few times. So naturally, they drive by in their truck and I just gave a big smile and waved like all was good. They didn't slow down or yell at me so hopefully, we're cool. I couldn't tell if they waved back because of the tint on the windows and glare from the sun. Oh well!

Anyway, let me tell you what I didn't get pictures of. I saw a Tropical Checkered Skipper that flew by twice but was not wanting it's picture taken, darnit! Also, I really tried to get a picture of a Cassius Blue but my camera has trouble focusing on things smaller than a dime. A little rare to see a Cassius so far from its host plant; they must be hungry. I have tassel flower in the front by my bromeliads. Don't know why they couldn't hang out there, but this was a much larger patch. I also saw a Cloudless Sulphur fly by far off in the distance but never saw it again.

I managed to take some terrible pictures of this skipper. Possibly Fiery Skipper or Whirlabout?

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I did manage some decent shots of a Barred Sulphur. Hurray!

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And just a little more info on tassel flower...as you can see, they're pretty small. Another reason why I laugh at Select Seeds' catalog is that it makes the flowers look really big. Maybe they have some kind of giant variety? As you can see, there are two colors - a light red and a lilac. The red is called Florida Tassel Flower and the lilac is called Lilac Tassel Flower according to the Florida Atlas of Vascular Plants. Despite the name, neither is native to Florida. They're not listed as invasive, but you sure do see them around. I can remember seeing them when I was a kid playing outside so they've been here a while, too. It says they're in the Aster family so I can see why the butterflies like them.

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Moderator of the best forum on ATP, the Butterflies, Bees, and Birds forum!
Name: Ann ~Heat zn 9, Sunset
North Fl. (Zone 8b)
Garden Sages Native Plants and Wildflowers Xeriscape Organic Gardener I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level
Butterflies Charter ATP Member Plant Identifier Region: Florida Dog Lover Birds
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flaflwrgrl
Jan 3, 2015 3:50 PM CST
I've seen the tassel flowers all my life too Melanie so yes, they sure have been around a while considering I'm 58 now.
I am a strong believer in the simple fact is that what matters in this life is how we treat others. I think that's what living is all about. Not what I've done in my life but how I've treated others.
~~ Sharon Brown ~~



Name: Melanie Long
Lutz, Florida (Zone 9b)
Larva tested, Pupa approved!
Butterflies Hummingbirder Birds Bee Lover Enjoys or suffers hot summers Region: Florida
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Bromeliad Native Plants and Wildflowers Forum moderator Plant Identifier
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mellielong
Jan 3, 2015 4:24 PM CST

Moderator

To satisfy my curiosity, I went to Select Seeds website and saw that they are selling Emilia coccinea. For the record, Florida Tassel Flower is Emilia fosbergii and Lilac Tassel Flower is Emilia sonchifolia. Still, the Select Seeds species doesn't look much bigger than the ones we grow here. I looked it up on the Plant Database. However, it seems to be a butterfly attractant, too as user @poisondartfrog posted this awesome picture of a Fritillary on it. Seems like a small flower for a Fritillary but those Meadow Frits I've seen in WV don't get very big.

Moderator of the best forum on ATP, the Butterflies, Bees, and Birds forum!
Name: Ann ~Heat zn 9, Sunset
North Fl. (Zone 8b)
Garden Sages Native Plants and Wildflowers Xeriscape Organic Gardener I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level
Butterflies Charter ATP Member Plant Identifier Region: Florida Dog Lover Birds
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flaflwrgrl
Jan 3, 2015 6:06 PM CST
Good thinking to see which variety is which Melanie. Thumbs up
I am a strong believer in the simple fact is that what matters in this life is how we treat others. I think that's what living is all about. Not what I've done in my life but how I've treated others.
~~ Sharon Brown ~~



Name: Melanie Long
Lutz, Florida (Zone 9b)
Larva tested, Pupa approved!
Butterflies Hummingbirder Birds Bee Lover Enjoys or suffers hot summers Region: Florida
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Bromeliad Native Plants and Wildflowers Forum moderator Plant Identifier
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mellielong
Jan 4, 2015 1:21 PM CST

Moderator

Oh, do my feet hurt! They should name me chief dishwasher at MOSI because I washed so many chrysalis boxes today. An unnamed someone apparently didn't clean any of the boxes of the butterflies she released on Friday although she managed to post a picture to Facebook of all the butterflies in their little boxes. Then, the manager stopped in around 10:00 and told me how he had released thirteen yesterday and those were the boxes sitting on the table. That was okay because the managers are doing us a favor by releasing the butterflies when we don't have a volunteer there so it's cool that they leave the dirty boxes. Add to that the ump-teen I released today and I felt like all I did was wash chrysalis boxes.

But I got some cool pictures for you guys in between all that dish washing. Seriously, with the fibromyalgia my back can only take so much and I can only stand for so long so I'd wash some dishes, go get food for the cats, wash dishes, go talk to a family in the flight cage, wash dishes, go net butterflies outside, etc.

When releasing butterflies, they often fly to the first thing they see which happens to be me. Case in point - this Cloudless Sulphur. By the way, it's very awkward taking a picture left-handed because a butterfly is on your right arm.

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This Monarch went for my leg.

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My brain is a little fried from the heat and too much allergy medicine, but I'll try to organize these pictures into some sort of order. But I may veer off track so just go with the flow. Here's some Malachites. They're supposed to prefer rotting fruit but I keep catching them on the pentas and even saw one on the lantana today! I wonder if that's like cheating on your diet?

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We have dozens of Julias right now. Like more than I've ever seen. It's kind of crazy and they were acting a little weird. Maybe they're not used to hanging out with so many of each other? This one got confused and thought it was a Malachite.

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There were two mating pairs in the flight cage. I think the female is the one with more dark markings. That's what BAMONA says anyway. I'm too tired to go look for my book.

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I honestly have no idea what's going on here. That's why I took a picture.

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These two Julias kept tasting the bench. No idea what was on it. Also, here's a look at the whole bench which is shaped like a butterfly. We have more in the classroom including smaller, butterfly chairs. The website on them says [url=www.flowerhouses.com]www.flowerhouses.com[/url] This bench is for the guests, I suppose, but usually I'm like, "Scoot over, I have chronic fatigue." It's also useful when I'm holding caterpillars because it puts me at about kid eye-level.

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These Julias were all just hanging out on the coontie. If you look all the way to the left you can see the mating pair by the white penta flowers.

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Here's some Zebra Longwings including a mating pair. I had a girl ask me what "mating" meant (she had to be like 10 years old but I think English was not a first language) so I said "reproducing" after quickly deciding that "having sex" might not fly with mom. Luckily, mom helped me out with "making babies". And then I explained that the male would fertilize the eggs and then she would lay them on a plant. I've never had much of a filter and anti-depressants will totally erase whatever you have left. So I have to watch what I say, especially when I'm starting to get tired. Stuff just comes out of my mouth and I'm all, "Oops!" Like last week when I was trying to sound scientific by using the Latin name for the Julia which is Dryas julia. Naturally, I pronounced it like "dry ass". I don't care if it's wrong, I'm saying it like "dry us" from now on. Anyway, wasn't I talking about Zebra Longwings?

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Here's some White Peacocks. Love those things. Oh, and there's a Julia in the background of the photos on the lantana.

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I also discovered today that Buckeyes like hanging baskets. It was weird, I had two different Buckeyes just basking on the handles of the baskets.

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How about a Monarch?

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I caught two Gulf Frits outside and they proceeded to go to the top of the screen and freak out. But one calmed down long enough to get this picture.

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My bosses must have made a trip to the butterfly farm in Plant City because we mysteriously acquired several species we didn't have before. Such as these Great Southern Whites. The female is the grayer one.

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And finally, here's a basket of lantana being attacked by Julias and Zebra Longwings.

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In other news, I caught one or two Cloudless Sulphurs. I honestly can't remember but I know I caught at least one. I also found seven Cloudless Sulphur cats so that's cool. We needed another tank of caterpillars so the lab looks full. This is a slow time of year. But I think it's going to be another weird year. We're already having a pretty wet winter and as I was driving home someone's azaleas were already blooming! Granted, they bloom early, but usually February, not the first week of January! Well, I always like a weird year. You never know what's going to fly your way!
Moderator of the best forum on ATP, the Butterflies, Bees, and Birds forum!
Name: Margaret
Near Kamloops, BC, Canada (Zone 3a)
Region: Canadian Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Tip Photographer Garden Ideas: Master Level I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Charter ATP Member
Morning Glories Critters Allowed Birds Houseplants Butterflies Garden Photography
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mcash70
Jan 4, 2015 2:20 PM CST
Great reporting today Melanie!! Thumbs up Thumbs up Thank You!
Name: Melanie Long
Lutz, Florida (Zone 9b)
Larva tested, Pupa approved!
Butterflies Hummingbirder Birds Bee Lover Enjoys or suffers hot summers Region: Florida
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Bromeliad Native Plants and Wildflowers Forum moderator Plant Identifier
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mellielong
Jan 4, 2015 2:31 PM CST

Moderator

Thanks for the acorns, Margaret! And because I'm a glutton for punishment, I went back outside to walk around my own yard to see what's going on. Okay, plus I have an orchid ready to pop and I wanted to check on it. It still hasn't popped.

I saw a Zebra Longwing and a Cloudless Sulphur but couldn't get pictures. It's really windy outside today. It's supposed to rain tonight. I also saw a Cassius Blue on that Tassel Flower patch but couldn't get a good pic.

In weird news, the chrysalis that was next to the empty chrysalis went missing! It just wasn't there! But I looked around and I found it laying on the ground. I have no idea what could have torn the silk away and dislodged it, but I brought it inside and put it in a critter keeper for safekeeping.

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And in case you've ever wondered what it's supposed to look like when your Monarch is about to emerge, here you go! You can clearly see the wing pattern through the chrysalis.

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I would have sworn that one just made its chrysalis, but I have a bunch that all made theirs on the same side of the plant so I'm a little confused. I also relocated a caterpillar over to the Giant Milkweed so he'd have enough to eat.

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I also had fun taking out the paper wasps and yellow jackets. We always have paper wasps but we usually don't have yellow jackets. Somehow they got inside our shed and both Dad and my brother got stung. Right now they've been nectaring on my bromeliads so I've been spraying them while trying to not spray any bees. Also, for some reason they've been swarming around this one Podocarpus (not my idea to plant it) in front of the garage. I've got to read up on yellow jackets and see what they're doing. I also saw this super-sized wasp so I'm off to the Insect ID forum to see what it is. Well, was. I killed it, too.
Moderator of the best forum on ATP, the Butterflies, Bees, and Birds forum!
Name: Melanie Long
Lutz, Florida (Zone 9b)
Larva tested, Pupa approved!
Butterflies Hummingbirder Birds Bee Lover Enjoys or suffers hot summers Region: Florida
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Bromeliad Native Plants and Wildflowers Forum moderator Plant Identifier
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mellielong
Jan 7, 2015 5:15 PM CST

Moderator

Just a little action outside today. This Cassius Blue was hanging out on that patch of Tassel Flower. It was cool outside (supposed to get down to 38 in Tampa) so it actually opened its wings to bask! They hardly ever do that here. It's just too warm most of the time. I couldn't get a great picture because they're so small my camera doesn't seem to pick them up as actual objects to focus on. I cropped these photos so you could find the little guy easier!

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Mom and I have both been relocating Monarch caterpillars to the Giant Milkweed. The one under the leaf has been in that same spot since yesterday. I thought he was molting but that's not the case. Maybe he's just cold?

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My bosses at MOSI replanted the flight cage today with lots of pretty flowers that thrive during our "winter". There are delphiniums and foxgloves! So expect some pretty pictures this Sunday. Also, they got a bunch of Giant ST chrysalises from our butterfly farmer friend and four of them decided to emerge this week! We're hoping we can get them mating and start a winter crop of them. I have to say, guests always love the Giant STs. They're so showy!
Moderator of the best forum on ATP, the Butterflies, Bees, and Birds forum!
Name: Kabby
Lowndesboro, AL (Zone 8a)
Region: United States of America Region: Alabama Plant and/or Seed Trader Dog Lover Birds Hummingbirder
Butterflies Tropicals Bulbs Lilies Daylilies Garden Procrastinator
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Kabby
Jan 7, 2015 6:02 PM CST
@mellielong Melanie being a total newbie with butterflies, what kind of time period from monarch cats first munching on milkweed to chrysalis? Then chrysalis to emergence of butterfly? I just got my milkweed seed yesterday and I'm looking around the yard for just the right location for them.
Name: Melanie Long
Lutz, Florida (Zone 9b)
Larva tested, Pupa approved!
Butterflies Hummingbirder Birds Bee Lover Enjoys or suffers hot summers Region: Florida
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Bromeliad Native Plants and Wildflowers Forum moderator Plant Identifier
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mellielong
Jan 7, 2015 8:17 PM CST

Moderator

Kabby, Monarchs are usually caterpillars for two to four weeks. It kind of depends on the quality of the milkweed they eat and I think weather factors into it, as well. They tend to be one of the more reliable species as far as their chrysalis goes, with them usually taking about ten days to become a butterfly. However, this is also dependent on the weather and I recently had one that took three weeks. But that was pretty unusual.
Moderator of the best forum on ATP, the Butterflies, Bees, and Birds forum!
Name: Kabby
Lowndesboro, AL (Zone 8a)
Region: United States of America Region: Alabama Plant and/or Seed Trader Dog Lover Birds Hummingbirder
Butterflies Tropicals Bulbs Lilies Daylilies Garden Procrastinator
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Kabby
Jan 8, 2015 7:59 PM CST
Thank you so much. I'm ready to start this new adventure! Hurray!
Name: Ann ~Heat zn 9, Sunset
North Fl. (Zone 8b)
Garden Sages Native Plants and Wildflowers Xeriscape Organic Gardener I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level
Butterflies Charter ATP Member Plant Identifier Region: Florida Dog Lover Birds
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flaflwrgrl
Jan 8, 2015 8:07 PM CST
@Kabby

Be sure to take photos & post them here!
I am a strong believer in the simple fact is that what matters in this life is how we treat others. I think that's what living is all about. Not what I've done in my life but how I've treated others.
~~ Sharon Brown ~~



Name: Melanie Long
Lutz, Florida (Zone 9b)
Larva tested, Pupa approved!
Butterflies Hummingbirder Birds Bee Lover Enjoys or suffers hot summers Region: Florida
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Bromeliad Native Plants and Wildflowers Forum moderator Plant Identifier
Image
mellielong
Jan 8, 2015 8:11 PM CST

Moderator

Welcome and don't be a stranger! We welcome folks at all skill levels so don't be intimidated or ever feel like you have a stupid question. We've all done stupid things (even me!) and learned from it. Plus, this site is so helpful because we have people from all over the country and all over the world so we all have our own areas of expertise.

Example of a funny question I got at the museum one time...an older couple was planting milkweed for the Monarchs. And they were talking about looking for eggs and the wife asked in an unsure voice, "Do the eggs move - and are they yellow?" I didn't laugh and informed her she had milkweed aphids which are pretty much a fact of life if you grow milkweed. Especially tropical milkweed. Fortunately for me, we had some milkweed in the flight cage with eggs on it so I showed her what to look for. So really, if you have questions, it's probably nothing we haven't heard before.
Moderator of the best forum on ATP, the Butterflies, Bees, and Birds forum!
Name: Ann ~Heat zn 9, Sunset
North Fl. (Zone 8b)
Garden Sages Native Plants and Wildflowers Xeriscape Organic Gardener I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level
Butterflies Charter ATP Member Plant Identifier Region: Florida Dog Lover Birds
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flaflwrgrl
Jan 8, 2015 8:23 PM CST
Amen. Hilarious!
I am a strong believer in the simple fact is that what matters in this life is how we treat others. I think that's what living is all about. Not what I've done in my life but how I've treated others.
~~ Sharon Brown ~~



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