Gardening for Butterflies, Birds and Bees forum: March 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
Mar 1, 2015 1:40 PM CST

Moderator

We came from here: The thread "February 2015 Butterflies, Moths & Larva" in Gardening for Butterflies, Birds and Bees forum

My feet are killing me, but I had a good day at MOSI. I netted three Gulf Frits, two Cloudless Sulphurs (in one swing!), and a female Orange-Barred Sulphur. But since spring is in the air, let's start with some mating Zebra Longwings!

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We also had some mating Great Southern Whites. I realized we didn't have any host plants for them in the flight cage so I went and found some Virginia Pepper Grass and put it in a container for them.

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I tried to stay away from the flight cage today because there were two teenage girl volunteers in there. The one seemed fine but the other must be new and a total idiot because she actually asked me, "Can I touch the butterflies?" (There is a large sign in the flight cage that clearly tells you not to touch the butterflies, caterpillars, or plants.) Then, when I came in with a butterfly in my net to release it, she asked, "Is that a butterfly?" I said, "No", because I'm a smart aleck. Anyway, here's the first butterfly I caught. A female Orange-Barred Sulphur. She never would let me get a good photo and then the Zebra Longwing decided to join her.

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Zebra Longwings were everywhere.

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And they were laying eggs all over the Passion Vine. I had a young girl who told me she knew what a person who studied butterflies was called and that she knew how to pronounce it. She correctly said, "Lepidopterist." And I told her how good that was. We got to watch a Julia and a Zebra Longwing lay eggs. I wondered how you could tell them apart since I had never seen a Julia lay eggs. And I discovered you can't because they're both yellow. Thank goodness the Gulf Fritillaries are more of a dull orange.

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And speaking of Julias.

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And here are some Great Southern Whites with their super awesome turquoise antenna clubs.

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And here's a Skipper I saw outside.

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I caught three Gulf Frits but this is one that was already in the flight cage. The others all freaked out after I caught them and I couldn't get a good picture. But this one is nicely showing off its "little mirrors".

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The Cloudless Sulphurs were freaking out, too. One was nectaring on the plumbago outside when the other one came along either to harass or flirt with it. I waited until they were real close and swooped my net and got them both! I also found five Sulphur cats of unknown variety today. They're too small to tell just yet. Here's the only picture I have that's halfway decent of one of the Cloudless Sulphurs. They would not come down from the screen ceiling.

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I hope spring gets sprung for you all very soon! I can't wait to see everyone else's butterflies!
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
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mcash70
Mar 1, 2015 9:20 PM CST
Wonderful start to March, great report Melanie! Thumbs up
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
Mar 2, 2015 2:40 AM CST
Melanie, I agree w/ Margaret!
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
Mar 2, 2015 9:01 AM CST

Moderator

And just think guys, it's only going to get better from here! It got up to 80 yesterday and it is forecast to hit 80 today. We had some scattered rain yesterday. It looked like it could rain at any moment at MOSI and I told the volunteers before I left that if it started raining, to close the exhibit and go back inside the museum. Tampa is number two in the world for lightning strikes, although that's mostly in the summer, but safety first! There was a supervisor there who really knew his butterflies, although he asked me to confirm some of his identifications. He was complaining about the humidity killing his hair (he wears a natural Afro) and I told him the humidity was killing ME! I'm not ready for it to return yet!

Dad has to go to Home Depot so I'm going to tag along and check out the garden center. Dad replaced the fence over the last few days but he needs one more section or something. Like I've said, we live on a cul-de-sac, but we're on the corner lot along the main road. The fence has been there since we built the house in 1994 so it needed replaced, badly. I told him to do it now before I started growing vines up everything. Hilarious! Now, I just have to order some more pipevine. All that fresh fence is tempting me!

If you haven't clicked on my signature in a while, check it out. My bosses are doing a series on women in science and today they're featuring astronomer Caroline Herschel. I thought it was really good reading! I try to encourage all the kids I meet at MOSI to be interested in science, but as a female who also studied a primarily male subject (Economics at the Wharton School), I do try to encourage the girls I run across. I got so excited that little girl knew what a Lepidopterist was yesterday! When I complimented her, the girl's mother told her to thank me. But I thanked her and told her how much I enjoy meeting other people who enjoy studying butterflies as much as I do! You never know if you're going to be the spark that ignites a passion in someone, child or adult. I'm sure over the years I've made people think about planting more natives, or just not killing those "striped worms" (Black Swallowtail caterpillars) on their herbs. And hopefully, I've educated some of you just as you've educated me! Group hug
Moderator of the best forum on ATP, the Butterflies, Bees, and Birds forum!
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
Mar 2, 2015 9:07 AM CST
It can only get better. Three nights ago temp set an all time new record low for Feb. at -14°. Snowed 8 " last night, high today maybe 19°, then ice and rain...and more ice...
Keep that commentary and pics coming to help preserve my sanity!
Nothing that's been done can ever be changed.
[Last edited by jmorth - Mar 2, 2015 9:10 AM (+)]
Give a thumbs up | Quote | Post #801797 (5)
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
Mar 2, 2015 9:21 AM CST

Moderator

My aunt and grandma live in WV and they've been getting it, too. My aunt has posted pictures of ice floating down the river and everything. It looks bad! We had been planning to visit in early May but then my favorite band is coming to town May 13. So at first we were thinking maybe late April and the first week of May but with the weather I think we're going to change it to the last two weeks of May just to be on the safe side!
Moderator of the best forum on ATP, the Butterflies, Bees, and Birds forum!
Name: María Cecilia Merlo
La Plata, ARGENTINA
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ceci
Mar 4, 2015 6:51 AM CST
mcash70 said:Wonderful start to March, great report Melanie! Thumbs up

I agree I agree
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
Mar 7, 2015 6:09 PM CST

Moderator

Well, it has been a pretty lousy week for butterflies, here. It's mostly been warm enough although today we only got up to 72 (I know, more Florida People Problems). But it's been cloudy and foggy and we had scattered showers for a few days. At least I got some pictures for the bird forum. (I'm trying to learn birds now).

Dad spotted a Giant Swallowtail the other day and Mom spotted it today but so far it has eluded me. I did see this Gulf Fritillary today. Must be a male because I can't find a single egg on any of the passion vines. Of course, that will change soon enough and I'll be complaining about how they're eating it down to the stems! Hilarious! It's a vicious cycle, nature is.

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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
Mar 7, 2015 9:54 PM CST
mcash70 said:Wonderful start to March, great report Melanie! Thumbs up


And I agree with everyone too!

My oh my, somehow I forgot it was March & to look for a new thread. Only took me a week to figure it out. Whistling 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 ~~



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
Mar 7, 2015 9:58 PM CST

Moderator

Don't worry, Ann. You didn't miss much. But hopefully, I can add a lot tomorrow. I always hate these time changes, though. Especially now that we do it in March and November. It makes a big difference on how early (or late) the butterflies come out to play.
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
Mar 8, 2015 7:32 AM CST
I DESPISE the time changes! Grumbling Grumbling Grumbling Grumbling Grumbling Grumbling Grumbling Grumbling
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: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
Always count your blessings in life
Region: California Houseplants Plays in the sandbox Orchids Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Composter
Cactus and Succulents Dragonflies Hummingbirder Amaryllis Container Gardener Xeriscape
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tarev
Mar 8, 2015 7:12 PM CST
I startled this butterfly on my way to take photos of my other plants..thankfully it returned to the Lewisia, so I was able to get some photos:


Lewisia
Photo by tarev
Image
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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
Mar 8, 2015 7:51 PM CST
Nice shots tarev (both BF and Lewisia) Looks like a Painted Lady.
Nothing that's been done can ever be changed.
Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
Always count your blessings in life
Region: California Houseplants Plays in the sandbox Orchids Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Composter
Cactus and Succulents Dragonflies Hummingbirder Amaryllis Container Gardener Xeriscape
Image
tarev
Mar 8, 2015 7:55 PM CST
Thanks jmorth! I do not see this butterfly here often, glad to see a different one. Smiling
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
Mar 8, 2015 7:57 PM CST

Moderator

Yes, very nice pictures, Tarev! I took some today too, but I am super tired because I stayed up too late last night. So I'm running on fumes here and going to bed. It's supposed to rain tomorrow so perfect weather for playing on the internet!
Moderator of the best forum on ATP, the Butterflies, Bees, and Birds forum!
Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
Always count your blessings in life
Region: California Houseplants Plays in the sandbox Orchids Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Composter
Cactus and Succulents Dragonflies Hummingbirder Amaryllis Container Gardener Xeriscape
Image
tarev
Mar 8, 2015 8:09 PM CST
Thanks Melanie Smiling Aww..am wishing for some rain..just too bone dry here.
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
Mar 9, 2015 6:12 PM CST

Moderator

Okay folks, I'm awake! And I promised pictures so let's start at the museum. This is a Gulf Frit that I released. It had some of the meconium (waste fluids) on its wings due to having to sit in the little box until I came to release it. So that's why it looks like that.

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And I released a Monarch.

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We had three Great Southern Whites. Technically two, because one escaped into the outer enclosure but I recaptured it with my net.

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Zebras roosting. That's the attached classroom in the second photo. You can sit in there and watch the butterflies through the window and we have a slide show, brochures, and a microscope where you can look at dead butterflies up close.

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Julias are still hanging out.

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This is our new "Savage Garden" exhibit with carnivorous plants, orchids, tillandsias, and other wetland plants. The pond exhibit behind it has koi and turtles.

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I'm wondering if this is the same Orange-Barred Sulphur female I netted last week.

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Speaking of Orange-Barred Sulphurs, I caught five last week and put them in a tank. And this week, all five were still in there! Sulphurs up and die for no good reason so this shocked me. FYI, when we can, we write the number of caterpillars on the tank so we know how many there are when we clean and change tanks. Anyway, I had to up the number a lot this week because I found 18 caterpillars! They're all Sulphurs and I was assuming Cloudless, but after looking at the ones from last week who have grown, they are definitely Orange-Barred. It used to be Orange-Barreds didn't show until later in the year but the last two years they've been nearly non-stop. Okay, here's one of the caterpillars I found. If you don't see it, look at the right set of leaves and from my thumb go up three leaves. It's that tiny orange thing.

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But then I found a big one so I know they're probably all Orange-Barred Sulphurs. Although, next week they may surprise me.

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Back home I saw the Gulf Frit that has been around lately.

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Both my dad and neighbor Jim planted Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow plants. But ours is in the shade and Jim's is in full sun. Both smell really good and are seeing a lot of action. Like this skipper.

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Jim's also had a hummingbird moth (Snowberry Clearwing) but this was the best photo I could get. Thumbs down

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Meanwhile, there was a Spicebush ST on my Yesterday, etc, plant. But it was up high and I couldn't get good lighting on it. From what I saw it was a male which is good because my Spicebush and Sassafras have only just started leafing out.

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This skipper was loving the new kind of Coreopsis I bought. I'll have to ask the folks at BAMONA what it is.

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I believe this is one of those Monk Skippers I learned about last year.

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A Long-Tailed Skipper also liked Jim's Yesterday, blah, blah plant. You can see the turquoise on the upper side. Very pretty.

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You can see the variety of butterflies has definitely increased. And this doesn't include the Giant ST that I finally saw, or the Cloudless Sulphur that wouldn't stop, or the Orange-Barred Sulphur that flew over my head. I saw two Giant STs driving around today and it made me wonder if the smell of orange blossoms lures them out. Hilarious!
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
Image
mellielong
Mar 9, 2015 8:49 PM CST

Moderator

I finally sat myself down and bought the plants I've been meaning to order. Of course, we did have that freeze about a week after our last "official" frost date of Feb 15 so I had to wait a little longer than expected. I just ordered six Wooly Pipevines to add to the two I already have; I'm going to plant four and keep two in my shade house where the butterflies can't lay eggs on them. Gotta have a spare food supply! I also ordered a Passiflora lutea. I had one years ago but these invasive ferns smothered it and it stopped coming back. Dad and I are working on the ferns, but I'm going to plant it in a different place. I also ordered some Carolina Petunias (Ruellia species can be a host for the Buckeye, but they use lots of plants). I had some of those before, too. Two of them were actually coming back and I stuck a tag on the smaller one so Dad wouldn't dig it up the other day when he was clearing the garden. So what did he do while I was inside for a few minutes? Pulled the tag, put in the trash bag I had going, and dug up my plant. I was talking to Grandma last night about it and told her I used a quote I learned from her last time I visited. I said, "Grandma, I told him he didn't know beans from apple butter!" She laughed and said, "Good for you!" I swear, non-gardeners need full supervision, folks. I also ordered some dwarf Mexican Sunflowers from John Scheepers. They carry the 'Goldfinger' variety, which is the best variety, in my opinion. Butterflies love them as nectar plants. I grew some years ago. Now, I just have to figure out where to put them.
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
Image
mellielong
Mar 11, 2015 3:33 PM CST

Moderator

Okay, I finally saw the Giant Swallowtail and I managed to get one lousy picture of it yesterday. So here you go.

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I got out today and planted all my plants by myself. I decided Dad could not be trusted and honestly, sometimes I like to pretend I'm still normal and can do normal things like plant flowers in my own garden. Now, when I spend most of tomorrow in bed taking Flexeril, I may come to regret this decision. But I saw my therapist today and then I decided I needed some garden therapy so down in the dirt I went. It's the getting up part that's hard!

This little skipper was really enjoying the Tampa Vervain (Glandularia tampensis). It's an endangered plant, but you can buy it at Lowe's and Home Depot because we have some native nurseries that are growing it commercially. It self seeds pretty well so I think the reason it's endangered is because it has the nerve to grow on dry ground where people want to build their houses.

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The tattered Gulf Frit that's been hanging around doesn't care if the pentas aren't in the ground yet.

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Managed to get a couple of decent pics of the Spicebush ST. I'm pretty sure this is a male which is good because my host plants are barely leafing out.

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So what does all this work look like? Well, I don't often show my garden, but here you go, folks. This is the "official" butterfly garden we carved out of the lawn. In the back you have two Sweetbay Magnolias with a Jatropha in the middle. I planted rue all along the back but they're babies so they're hard to see. They get tall though, which is why I put them in the back.

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We've got Tampa Vervain in a little triangle, some Salvia 'Mystic Spires' (Dad likes the name, the bees like the nectar), some porterweeds we just cut back but are already coming back, two rows of pentas, and Coreopsis and Blanket Flowers in the front. The obelisk is for the Passiflora lutea I ordered the other day. The trellis with the butterfly on it is where I transplanted two of my volunteer Corkystem Passion Vines (P. suberosa). I figured both Passifloras could grow up and eventually on the porterweed and salvia but the truth is the caterpillars will never let them get that big. Hilarious!

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The potted plant is a placeholder for the moment. It's the one I got at Lowe's for a whole dollar on the clearance rack. It's about to bloom and I suspect it's 'Black and Blue' which would be awesome. I have some already but I need to transplant them. I'm actually going to plant the four Carolina Petunias I ordered in that space when they arrive. They're a good native plant and Ruellia species can host the Buckeye butterfly. I actually saw a Buckeye today but it was acting like it had somewhere to be and was running twenty minutes late. I also mixed the colors of the pentas because I just like the way that looks. I have red, light pink, dark pink, and purple.

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In other news, that's the new fence Dad put up last week. I told him he better do it before my vines got started. The Wooly Pipevine is already leafing out like mad! I wish it would grow that fast all the time. Sighing! I also had my first hummingbird sighting! I didn't get a picture but it was on my Purple Firespike. I bought one in late summer 2013 because USF Botanical Gardens has one and it is a Swallowtail magnet. So far they don't seem to be getting the message. But I also read that hummingbirds like it and that appears to be true! And in case you're wondering why I have a bromeliad sitting on the corner of the garden...well, I meant to move it but that never happened. Besides, the Monarchs like to make their chrysalises on it!

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I also saw a Cloudless Sulphur that never stopped. I mean, it was flying through the neighborhood all day! I yelled at it and said I didn't care about it and wasn't going to chase it. So naturally, it landed on the pentas I hadn't planted yet which we're right next to me. But by the time I got my camera out it was gone. Those things are so frustrating! I saw the Giant ST again but it flew way up in the trees. Also, this is the time of year when caterpillars hang down out of the oak trees by their silk. I tried to take a picture of this phenomenon but my camera wouldn't focus because the caterpillar kept swinging. So I grabbed the silk to hold it still but it wouldn't focus. About that time, the caterpillar started climbing up the silk toward my hand, I freaked out because I wasn't sure what species it was, it swung and hit me in the face which caused me to freak out more, and then I lost track of the caterpillar. About the time I screamed Dad was near and asked if I was okay. I asked him to look for caterpillars on me while I looked down my shirt to make sure I wasn't harboring one in my bra. Rolling on the floor laughing Life is always interesting with me, folks.

As Dad and I did a last walk around the yard, this skipper (possibly the same one from earlier) was enjoying the Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow which is the same plant the Spicebush was on earlier. I don't remember it being such an attractant in previous years. Hmmm...

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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
Image
mcash70
Mar 11, 2015 4:00 PM CST
Melanie, good job on the planting, Thumbs up your butterfly garden is going to look great when it fills in, that is if the caterpillars don't keep eating everything. Hilarious!

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