Gardening for Butterflies, Birds and Bees forum: Where are the butterflies? 2011 very slow year.

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Name: Sheila F
Fort Worth TX (Zone 8a)
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Sheila_FW
Sep 1, 2011 12:35 PM CST
Thought I would post this text of the article Dale Clark wrote recently.

"Not a day goes by that someone doesn’t ask me about this summer’s scarcity of butterflies. Gardeners have set out flowers rich in nectar and plants specifically chosen to host different species’ eggs and the hatched caterpillars, seemingly with no takers.
Weather is one of the greatest influences on a butterfly’s life. The double-whammy of a drought and a record-breaking heat wave has caused native butterfly populations, in general, to tumble. While this is disappointing to gardeners who have struggled to keep their butterfly banquets green and flowering, it is a natural response of the insect to these cruel climatic conditions.
Butterflies, however, have adapted numerous strategies for survival. As a species, this is not their first drought.
While you may have had Eastern black swallowtail caterpillars consuming dill or parsley in your garden in early summer, you probably have noticed a drop in visitors since the mercury hit the area’s long streak of 100-plus temperatures. If conditions are too severe, a swallowtail chrysalis can go months (or even years) before a butterfly emerges, a survival technique that also applies to pipevine, giant and tiger swallowtails.
The bordered patch butterfly, and other closely related species, can wait out the drought in the caterpillar stage. When the quality of their host plants (sunflowers, ragweed and cowpen daisies) begins to falter, they stop eating and go into estivation, a sort of summer hibernation, and wait until the rains rejuvenate the plants they live on.
One of the most reliable butterfly host plants a gardener can cultivate is passionvine (Passiflora spp.). This is the only plant genus on which Gulf fritillary butterflies will lay their eggs. Usually by August homeowners are complaining that their vines have been stripped bare, but not this year. Trellises and fences are enveloped in lush growth and gardeners are enjoying plenty of the exotic blooms. So where are the Gulf fritillaries?
The natural life history of the Gulf fritillary is that it immigrates to our area each spring and summer from more southerly locales. Instinct drives this journey because Gulf fritillaries cannot tolerate extended periods of freezing temps and because our native passionvines usually die to the ground in winter, so the insect must recolonize its range every year.
However, with the popularity of butterfly gardening and the increased use of one passionvine in particular —‘Blue Crown’ (P. caerulea) — a slight wrinkle has developed. ‘Blue Crown’ is semi-evergreen in North Texas; in mild winters the orange-and-black fritillary can survive and continue breeding, withstanding brief spells of freezing temperatures and giving the butterfly a head start in spring reproduction.
However, this past winter’s single-digit temperatures killed overwintering Gulf fritillaries and many ‘Blue Crown’ passionvines. That, coupled with the current drought, has greatly reduced the numbers of this particular butterfly.
Once the heat wave breaks and rain occurs, the numbers of butterflies will increase. Mother Nature has done all of this before and, in the long run, butterflies know how to cope and survive. Keep tending those nectar and host plants; eventually, they will be needed and appreciated."

article by Dale Clark (co-founder of the Dallas County Lepidopterist Society)

His last statement is why I am continuing to water when I can....I am keeping the faith they will be here and need me.
Thumb of 2011-09-01/Sheila_FW/cd48bf
Name: Trish
Jacksonville, TX (Zone 8a)
I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Roses Herbs Vegetable Grower
Composter Canning and food preservation Hosted a Not-A-Raffle-Raffle Organic Gardener Forum moderator Hummingbirder
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Trish
Sep 1, 2011 1:04 PM CST

Garden.org Admin

Great article, Shelia- thanks for sharing!!

We had a bit of butterfly action very early in the spring when the Vitex bloomed the first time, but hardly one has been seen since. Crying

Like you, I'm cultivating my plants (well, the ones that are living, at least!) in anticipation of their return.

We've had a lot of hummers this year, though!
NGA COO, Wife, Mom, and caretaker of 90 acres and all that dwell there.
Name: Sandy Coffman
Jacksonville, Florida
Charter ATP Member Forum moderator I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Region: Florida Dog Lover
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wren
Sep 1, 2011 3:59 PM CST
My butterfly numbers are increasing. the 3rd set of Black Swallowtail cats have just hatched. The poor passion vines are being eaten alive and I am seeing more other kinds of butterflies, just wish they would stay still long enough for me to take their pictures
Name: Sheila F
Fort Worth TX (Zone 8a)
Charter ATP Member Tip Photographer I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Region: Texas Butterflies Garden Art
Ponds Dog Lover Hummingbirder Birds The WITWIT Badge Region: United States of America
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Sheila_FW
Sep 1, 2011 5:50 PM CST
Dale was nice enough to send it to me. It was a great article. Thumbs up

Wren...Try standing or sitting in the same position, most of the time they will circle around and return to the same area they left. Monarchs take a long time before coming back, but have patience, they will get used to you being there.
Name: Sandy Coffman
Jacksonville, Florida
Charter ATP Member Forum moderator I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Region: Florida Dog Lover
Birds Butterflies Amaryllis Seed Starter Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Hummingbirder
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wren
Sep 1, 2011 5:57 PM CST
Need more nectar plants for that and a lot less bees and honey eating wasp, and that might work.
Name: Trish
Jacksonville, TX (Zone 8a)
I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Roses Herbs Vegetable Grower
Composter Canning and food preservation Hosted a Not-A-Raffle-Raffle Organic Gardener Forum moderator Hummingbirder
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Trish
Sep 1, 2011 6:58 PM CST

Garden.org Admin

*don't kill the bees*

Please.
NGA COO, Wife, Mom, and caretaker of 90 acres and all that dwell there.
Name: Sandy Coffman
Jacksonville, Florida
Charter ATP Member Forum moderator I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Region: Florida Dog Lover
Birds Butterflies Amaryllis Seed Starter Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Hummingbirder
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wren
Sep 1, 2011 7:06 PM CST
I have no plans to kill the bees, they are one of the main subjects for my pictures.
I am sharing my pictures with a young scientist.He is doing his Dr theses(?) on native bees

Thumb of 2011-09-02/wren/a33a11 Thumb of 2011-09-02/wren/614af9

Thumb of 2011-09-02/wren/90e817 Thumb of 2011-09-02/wren/5b02f6
Name: Sandy Coffman
Jacksonville, Florida
Charter ATP Member Forum moderator I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Region: Florida Dog Lover
Birds Butterflies Amaryllis Seed Starter Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Hummingbirder
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wren
Sep 1, 2011 7:30 PM CST
I forget to add that I have 2 species of Carpenter Bees, Honey bees, Sweat bees, and mason bees and may have another species but have not been able to get a picture of them. My one Mason bee box is being uses. I plan on getting more boxes this winter.
Name: Sheila F
Fort Worth TX (Zone 8a)
Charter ATP Member Tip Photographer I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Region: Texas Butterflies Garden Art
Ponds Dog Lover Hummingbirder Birds The WITWIT Badge Region: United States of America
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Sheila_FW
Sep 1, 2011 9:44 PM CST
WTG Wren! Great shots!
Name: Trish
Jacksonville, TX (Zone 8a)
I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Roses Herbs Vegetable Grower
Composter Canning and food preservation Hosted a Not-A-Raffle-Raffle Organic Gardener Forum moderator Hummingbirder
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Trish
Sep 1, 2011 11:08 PM CST

Garden.org Admin

I agree
NGA COO, Wife, Mom, and caretaker of 90 acres and all that dwell there.
Name: Sandy Coffman
Jacksonville, Florida
Charter ATP Member Forum moderator I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Region: Florida Dog Lover
Birds Butterflies Amaryllis Seed Starter Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Hummingbirder
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wren
Sep 2, 2011 2:43 AM CST
Thank you
Name: Linda
Medina Co., TX (Zone 8a)
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LindaTX8
Sep 5, 2011 9:49 AM CST
I've released one Two-tailed Tiger Swallowtail in all its glory over the weekend. It was in a hurry to get going, so no pic! Sure could fly good!
I would feel more optimistic about a bright future for man if he spent less time proving that he can outwit Nature and more time tasting her sweetness and respecting her seniority. E. B.White
Integrity can never be taken. It can only be given, and I wasn't going to give it up to these people. Gary Mowad
Name: Mary
My little patch of paradise (Zone 7b)
Gardening dilettante, that's me!
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fiwit
Sep 5, 2011 10:09 AM CST
Great photos Wren! I'm going to break one of my personal rules and ask "The Question." What kind of camera do you have?





(remember: I strongly believe it's the photographer, not the tool. But I'm curious)
Northwest Georgia Daylily Society
I'm going to retire and live off of my savings. Not sure what I'll do that second week.
My yard marches to the beat of a bohemian drummer...
Name: Trish
Jacksonville, TX (Zone 8a)
I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Roses Herbs Vegetable Grower
Composter Canning and food preservation Hosted a Not-A-Raffle-Raffle Organic Gardener Forum moderator Hummingbirder
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Trish
Sep 5, 2011 10:10 AM CST

Garden.org Admin

Very Nice!

Details, details! Did you find the catepillar and grow it out inside, or???

Big Grin
NGA COO, Wife, Mom, and caretaker of 90 acres and all that dwell there.
Name: Linda
Medina Co., TX (Zone 8a)
Charter ATP Member Salvias Herbs Bluebonnets Native Plants and Wildflowers Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge)
Forum moderator Purslane Hummingbirder Cat Lover Butterflies Birds
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LindaTX8
Sep 5, 2011 11:00 AM CST
I have a bunch of chrysallises out in the shed waiting to emerge. I found eggs and caterpillars in the spring and raised them in containers inside...later put them out in a large shed after they pupated. With this very large butterfly, most wait months to emerge. One of my previously released two-tailed tigers:

Thumb of 2011-09-05/LindaTX8/7c5fbb
I would feel more optimistic about a bright future for man if he spent less time proving that he can outwit Nature and more time tasting her sweetness and respecting her seniority. E. B.White
Integrity can never be taken. It can only be given, and I wasn't going to give it up to these people. Gary Mowad
Name: Mary
My little patch of paradise (Zone 7b)
Gardening dilettante, that's me!
Plays in the sandbox Native Plants and Wildflowers Butterflies Dog Lover Daylilies The WITWIT Badge
Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Bluebonnets Birds Region: Georgia Composter Garden Ideas: Master Level
Image
fiwit
Sep 5, 2011 11:04 AM CST
So beautiful....
Northwest Georgia Daylily Society
I'm going to retire and live off of my savings. Not sure what I'll do that second week.
My yard marches to the beat of a bohemian drummer...
Name: Trish
Jacksonville, TX (Zone 8a)
I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Roses Herbs Vegetable Grower
Composter Canning and food preservation Hosted a Not-A-Raffle-Raffle Organic Gardener Forum moderator Hummingbirder
Image
Trish
Sep 5, 2011 12:18 PM CST

Garden.org Admin

I agree
NGA COO, Wife, Mom, and caretaker of 90 acres and all that dwell there.
Name: Sandy Coffman
Jacksonville, Florida
Charter ATP Member Forum moderator I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Region: Florida Dog Lover
Birds Butterflies Amaryllis Seed Starter Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Hummingbirder
Image
wren
Sep 8, 2011 8:12 PM CST
My Camera is a Canon EOS Rebel T3i and I am using mostly either the 50mm or the 60mm Macro lens. I have 2 other macro lens also.


I went on a little trip along the Gulf Coast of the Florida Panhandle and there where butterflies everywhere!!!!!
Swallowtails of a couple of kinds, a number of different sizes of Yellows and a mob of GF's and Monarchs.
Name: Sheila F
Fort Worth TX (Zone 8a)
Charter ATP Member Tip Photographer I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Region: Texas Butterflies Garden Art
Ponds Dog Lover Hummingbirder Birds The WITWIT Badge Region: United States of America
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Sheila_FW
Sep 8, 2011 9:31 PM CST
Thumbs up Thumbs up Good to know Sandy!
Name: Linda
Medina Co., TX (Zone 8a)
Charter ATP Member Salvias Herbs Bluebonnets Native Plants and Wildflowers Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge)
Forum moderator Purslane Hummingbirder Cat Lover Butterflies Birds
Image
LindaTX8
Sep 18, 2011 3:18 PM CST
I've been releasing butterflies! Three emerged this morning and released this afternoon, one was released yesterday also! It's like someone suddenly said wake up! What this species does I call summering over.
Thumb of 2011-09-18/LindaTX8/2b7151
I would feel more optimistic about a bright future for man if he spent less time proving that he can outwit Nature and more time tasting her sweetness and respecting her seniority. E. B.White
Integrity can never be taken. It can only be given, and I wasn't going to give it up to these people. Gary Mowad

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