Gardening for Butterflies, Birds and Bees forum: August 2014 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
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mellielong
Aug 1, 2014 7:39 PM CST

Moderator

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

Okay guys, I didn't take any pictures today because Mom and I went to see "Guardians of the Galaxy" and it was AWESOME! And then I took a nap. But as we were leaving this morning, that Palamedes Swallowtail was on my plumbagos again! Of course, I didn't have my camera and I didn't run back and get it because I'd already set the alarm and we needed to get good seats at the movies.

So consider this a "Flashback Friday" photo! This is a Palamedes ST that visited back in September 2009. You can tell the difference between them and other Swallowtails because of the stripe on the underside of their wing that runs parallel to their body. Also, they have a striped body (Spicebushes have spots). I also think the top of the Palamedes looks more "air-brushed" whereas the Eastern Black ST has clearly defined yellow cells. See for yourself! FYI, that's a lovebug also on the pentas. May and September are lovebug season in Florida.

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Now that we enjoyed that, I'll add that my Butterflies of Florida field guide says this is the most frequently encountered Swallowtail in Florida. And I will say that I think he's full of it. Honestly, how often do you guys see me post this guy? I told my boss at MOSI that same tidbit and she looked at me like I was crazy. Unless you live in or near a swamp, the Palamedes is not a frequent visitor. Their host plants are Red Bay and Swamp Bay (in the Laurel family). The Spicebush Swallowtail will also use those trees as host plants. The Ambrosia Beetle is currently spreading a disease called Laurel Wilt which is killing these trees. It also kills avocados so the farmers are up in arms about it, but I don't like guacamole (salsa con queso for me) so I'm more concerned about the butterflies. Because they live in the swamp, the Palamedes is often found nectaring on Pickerel Weed.

So don't believe everything you read in those butterfly books. Use your own experiences as a guide, too. And please forgive me for using an old photo but my OCD tendencies were telling me I had to make the August thread today. And I wanted the thumbnail to be really pretty!
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Name: Catmint/Robin
Maryland (Zone 7a)
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Catmint20906
Aug 1, 2014 7:46 PM CST
It is a beautiful butterfly, Melanie--and what beautiful photos of it, too! Hurray!

That is interesting about your butterfly guide! I would say the most frequent swallowtail in my area is the Black Swallowtail--although Tiger Swallowtail is common as well.

That is really too bad about the Laurel Wilt disease--and I love avocadoes, too! Sad
"One of the pleasures of being a gardener comes from the enjoyment you get looking at other people's yards”
― Thalassa Cruso
Name: josephine
Arlington, Texas (Zone 8a)
Hi Everybody!! Let us talk native.
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frostweed
Aug 1, 2014 7:49 PM CST
Beautiful!! I wish I could see the real thing, but we don't get them here in North Central Texas. Smiling
Wildflowers are the Smiles of Nature.
Gardening with Texas Native Plants and Wildflowers.
central Illinois
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jmorth
Aug 1, 2014 10:04 PM CST
HBM was back tonight- w/ Beauty Rose lily
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Nothing that's been done can ever be changed.
Name: cheshirekat
New Mexico, USA Zone 8 (Zone 8a)
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ckatNM
Aug 2, 2014 2:10 AM CST
Hummingbird moth?
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Funny thing is that if this moth had come along about five minutes later, I might have gotten a photo of the sunflower thief in the neighborhood, but I'd already put my camera away. I've seen this teenaged kid damaging sunflowers or stealing them as he passes by. He couldn't see that I was behind the trellis when he hopped over the neighbor's short wall and stole one of their sunflowers.



"A garden is a friend you can visit any time." - Anonymous
Name: josephine
Arlington, Texas (Zone 8a)
Hi Everybody!! Let us talk native.
Native Plants and Wildflowers Organic Gardener Butterflies Garden Ideas: Master Level Forum moderator I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member Plant Identifier Birds Cat Lover Xeriscape
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frostweed
Aug 2, 2014 6:54 AM CST
Very good pictures Jay and Ckat, it is so sad that children as well as adults, wills destroy flowers.
Wildflowers are the Smiles of Nature.
Gardening with Texas Native Plants and Wildflowers.
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
Aug 2, 2014 9:53 AM CST

Moderator

Nice pictures but I totally agree about the kid. We have signs at MOSI asking people not to pick the flowers. Even in the flight cage I have to tell kids not to pick them. They think if they stand there with literally one little penta bloom in their hand the butterfly will land on it. I explain that's not how it works, but some of the kids are dumb. Some of the adults are even dumber. Luckily, that's like 5-10% of our guests.

Just released my one and only Eastern Black ST. Still don't know how it found its Mommy found the rue under all those weeds! Rolling on the floor laughing It was ready to fly and went right on out. Now, I need to go out and check the pipevine once again before I go to MOSI. My neighbors are having a yard sale so I guess I'll try not to do anything too strange, but no promises!
Moderator of the best forum on ATP, the Butterflies, Bees, and Birds forum!
Name: Catmint/Robin
Maryland (Zone 7a)
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Catmint20906
Aug 2, 2014 10:01 AM CST
Beautiful moth photo, Ckat!

Melanie, wishing your BST happy flights! :-)
"One of the pleasures of being a gardener comes from the enjoyment you get looking at other people's yards”
― Thalassa Cruso
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
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flaflwrgrl
Aug 2, 2014 11:45 AM CST
Great HBM photos you two!
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
Aug 2, 2014 5:19 PM CST

Moderator

Well, I got brave and wandered out into the yard today. That's brave of me because it's about a million degrees out, mosquitoes now have a new virus that's spreading to the US (Chickungunya), and my brother was mowing the lawn at 30 mph. I would have posted earlier but I needed a nap after all that excitement. Here's what I got!

A Cloudless Sulphur that seemed to be taking a break. I guess even butterflies have to rest every now and then.

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And I've got Monarch cats munching away.

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And speaking of Hairstreaks, I got a Gray Hairstreak in the yard today! Hairstreaks are nice because they tend to sit still for long periods of time. And yes, they sit and rub their wings together like we discussed. I'm going to post a lot of pictures of this guy because I don't see them in the garden all too often. I used to see them pretty regular back when I went hiking, though. Notice how the tails on the back end resemble antenna and the eyespots would lead a predator to think that was the head. I've seen many Hairstreaks missing tails and with chunks out of their hind ends, but they were still alive so the ruse worked!

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In the last picture (the second one below this text), you can see his proboscis is semi-curled which I thought was cool.

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The Duskywings are still out in force. This one started on the Spanish Needles but I now have tassel flower among my weeds so it hit that up, too. I like how the butterfly is so heavy it's bending the tassel flower. It's weird to think of butterflies as heavy. The third pic is a different Duskywing on the porterweed.

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Ever since BAMONA identified a Whirlabout in my yard, I'm tempted to call all orange skippers Whirlabouts. So this may or may not be a Whirlabout. I think I just like that name. Sounds like a carnival ride.

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Since I'm headed to MOSI tomorrow, I cleaned the pipevine of eggs and caterpillars. There were so many little caterpillars that I must have missed a ton of eggs the other day. And I found more Polydamas and Pipevine eggs. Here's a couple of Polydamas cats I found. The one had just finished molting and the other is HUGE (and was semi-stinkhorning me). You can't get the sense of size from the photo, but trust me. He's joining the other fatty I still have from the other day. I might keep them since they're almost done eating. And see how the big one is lighter in color and sort of stripey? Apparently, that's from being exposed to the harsh Florida sun. People get darker, caterpillars get lighter. Weird.

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I had a Swallowtail sighting and it might have been the dark form female Tiger ST but I can't be sure as it flew across the street. Still no action on their host plant, the Sweetbay Magnolia. Thumbs down However, it didn't take long for the Pipevine ST to realize I cleaned the plant as she was right back at it. I couldn't get too many pictures because I was melting and attracting bugs and didn't have time to wait for her to find the perfect spot to lay eggs so this is all you get.

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And back in the house all those Pipevine ST eggs I collected the other day are now little caterpillars that are headed to MOSI. But check them out! Aren't they cute?

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Moderator of the best forum on ATP, the Butterflies, Bees, and Birds forum!
Name: cheshirekat
New Mexico, USA Zone 8 (Zone 8a)
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ckatNM
Aug 2, 2014 5:29 PM CST
mellielong said:We have signs at MOSI asking people not to pick the flowers. Even in the flight cage I have to tell kids not to pick them. They think if they stand there with literally one little penta bloom in their hand the butterfly will land on it. I explain that's not how it works, but some of the kids are dumb. Some of the adults are even dumber. Luckily, that's like 5-10% of our guests.


I only went to the Butterfly Pavillion they have in Denver one time. It shocked me that parents defended their kids that were stepping off the path and trying to reach the butterflies while stomping on the plants. Hearing "They are just kids" I found disrespectful to the butterflies and selfish. I felt bad that the staff probably had to deal with that kind of thing frequently.
"A garden is a friend you can visit any time." - Anonymous
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
Aug 2, 2014 5:39 PM CST
I read today something posted by Catmint20906 that the Eastern Redbud is larval host for the Spicebush Swallowtail. I think that's so cool as I have the Redbud! Thumbs up

Edit:
Forgot the link:
Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis)
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 ~~



[Last edited by flaflwrgrl - Aug 2, 2014 5:40 PM (+)]
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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
Aug 2, 2014 8:37 PM CST
Children must be taught at an early age about respect for their parents, each other, property, and all animals.
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
Aug 2, 2014 8:58 PM CST
I agree
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
Aug 2, 2014 11:05 PM CST

Moderator

Ann, I would take that Redbud statement with a big grain of salt. I have never heard of the Spicebush Swallowtail using anything outside the Laurel family. I did a quick Google search and one zoo site listed Redbud as a host, but I'm afraid they may be getting confused and actually mean Redbay, which is a host for the Spicebush Swallowtail.

As for the museum, the kids I can usually deal with but the adults who act stupid really get to me. I've been telling my trainees to be very careful what they do in front of the guests because people will think it's okay to do what we do even though we are trained professionals. For example, I rarely release butterflies when guests are around. Sometimes the butterfly isn't completely dry so I have to transfer it from my finger and then onto a plant. But people see me do this and think they can try it with the other butterflies. This is especially true with kids - they want to do everything they see someone else do. I even told them to be careful how they word things. Because I get the question a lot, "Will you kill a butterfly if you touch it?" And I tell people no, but you will probably rub the scales off its wings and if you don't know your own strength you could easily damage it. I've told people if they must touch a butterfly (like if it's in a spider web) to try to let the legs climb on you, but avoid the wings. Well, two weeks ago I walked in the flight cage to see a grown woman (50's maybe?) holding a butterfly on her finger. I immediately told her guests are not allowed to touch the butterflies and she told me how she was there last week and a volunteer told her you could touch the legs, just not the wings. And I flat-out told her I hoped she didn't remember that person's name because I would chew them out myself. But then I thought about it and I thought maybe she just misinterpreted what a volunteer was trying to tell her. But let me tell you, my blood pressure shot up! I was so mad!

I haven't really been to other butterfly exhibits but from what I've heard some encourage you to feed the butterflies (I did this once in a butterfly tent using Q-Tips soaked in Gatorade) and some have butterflies that will naturally land on people. Some of my museum friends were even angry at the picture of Prince William with the butterfly on his hand and little George reaching for it! I try to remember that MOSI's mission statement is, "Making science real." And that means I'm not going to lie to people and tell them butterflies will magically land on them. I'm going to explain why a butterfly probably won't land on them, why they shouldn't touch a butterfly, and make them understand these are insects with natural instincts to avoid us! I also lecture on native plants and taking care of the environment because we exclusively raise Florida butterflies. Most butterfly exhibits purchase their butterflies and feature the more showy, tropical species. Which is visually pleasing, but how much do you learn from that?

I impressed upon my trainees that there are two primary functions in this job - taking care of the butterflies and taking care of the caterpillars. There's a reason the butterfly volunteers aren't part of the general volunteer group at MOSI. It requires a lot of specialized knowledge. My loyalty is to the living creatures I raise and while I try to be nice to all the guests, I'm going to protect the butterflies even if it means hurting someone's feelings. MOSI started charging for parking a few years back which I kind of disagreed with, but it has helped the gardens tremendously! We used to have people come park and just hang outside the butterfly garden like it was a playground or a park (but they would never go inside the museum where you have to pay). I had one mom letting her children run around with little butterfly nets trying to catch them. I asked her to have them stop, but her attitude was, "They're not really going to catch one." And I thought, "No, they're going to hit one with a net and kill it and you'll have to explain to them what they did." One child actually came really close, too. So as much as I hate the parking fee, I have benefited from it. People often stop in the butterfly exhibit before going into the building to pay and get the MOSI stickers (so we know they paid). As long as you're not being a jerk, I will never say anything if you don't have a sticker. I generally don't even notice them. But believe me, I've had no problems telling guests they need to go in and get their stickers before they can visit the exhibit. Sometimes they come back, sometimes they don't. I've told the other volunteers to use that trick if they ever have a jerk without a sticker on.

But like I said, 90% of the people are fine and don't give me problems. And part of the reason I started taking caterpillars into the flight cage was simply so the guests would have something they could touch. It distracts the kids, too. People have this weird need to touch things. I mean, every week I'm impressed just to be able to get so close to a butterfly but people feel this need to touch them. Why? If you stand really still in your yard do you think a butterfly will land on you? So why do you do it in my flight cage? Animal behavior doesn't usually vary that much in captivity.

And now after this diatribe, I get to wake up and go deal with these people! But we have a 50-60% chance of rain tomorrow so it may be a short day. Thanks for listening, folks!
Moderator of the best forum on ATP, the Butterflies, Bees, and Birds forum!
Name: Catmint/Robin
Maryland (Zone 7a)
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Catmint20906
Aug 3, 2014 5:52 AM CST
hey, Melanie and Ann. I got the info from HOSTS - a Database of the World's Lepidopteran Hostplants, which is maintained by the Research and Curation department of the Natural History Museum in London.
http://www.nhm.ac.uk/research-curation/research/projects/hos...

No database is perfect of course, but this source seems to me to be better than most that are available online to the public. For Cercis canadensis in the USA, the butterfly species that come up are Henry's Elfin (Incisalia henrici) and Spicebush Swallowtail (Papilio troilus).

There is a link for emailing them comments, corrections, and additions:
http://www.nhm.ac.uk/research-curation/research/projects/hos...

If you do email them about this one, Melanie, please keep us posted about the results!! :-)
"One of the pleasures of being a gardener comes from the enjoyment you get looking at other people's yards”
― Thalassa Cruso
[Last edited by Catmint20906 - Aug 3, 2014 6:11 AM (+)]
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Name: Catmint/Robin
Maryland (Zone 7a)
Region: Mid-Atlantic Butterflies Forum moderator Native Plants and Wildflowers Bee Lover Echinacea
Region: Maryland Garden Photography Cottage Gardener Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015 The WITWIT Badge
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Catmint20906
Aug 3, 2014 6:17 AM CST
PS--This is from their database 'home' webpage http://www.nhm.ac.uk/research-curation/research/projects/hos...

"1. What HOSTS contains

Records of caterpillar hostplants are scattered through published and manuscript sources worldwide and are difficult to retrieve. Many rearing records are never published and so are not accessible to other entomologists. But collected hostplant records form a valuable scientific resource that can be used eventually to answer broader biological questions about how Lepidoptera and plants interact (eg, Letourneau, Hagen & Robinson, 2001). It provides information of immediate relevance to agriculture, ecology, forestry, conservation and taxonomy.
HOSTS brings together an enormous body of information on what the world's butterfly and moth (Lepidoptera) caterpillars eat. The web-based version presented here offers a synoptic data set drawn from about 180,000 records comprising taxonomically 'cleaned' hostplant data for about 22,000 Lepidoptera species drawn from about 1600 published and manuscript sources. It is not (and cannot be) exhaustive, but it is probably the best and most comprehensive compilation of hostplant data available.
We hope that it will be useful to a wide range of biologists and that it will act as a spur to further recording and analysis of caterpillar-plant interactions."

I really enjoy the database. I have it bookmarked and have gone through it researching what butterflies & moths the plants in my own yard attract. Since I have a redbud in my front yard, I had looked it up for my own plant database which I keep on my laptop. Smiling My own records are biased though towards butterflies which are found in the area where I live--and of course towards the plants in my own yard! However, I have been going through my personal plant database and sharing information I have gathered from various sources on larval host plants, as well as the bees and beneficial insects that specific plants attract, in the hope that this information might be useful to other ATP users.

I love the ATP plant database, by the way! So easy to use with lots of good information. :-)
"One of the pleasures of being a gardener comes from the enjoyment you get looking at other people's yards”
― Thalassa Cruso
[Last edited by Catmint20906 - Aug 3, 2014 7:14 AM (+)]
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Name: Catmint/Robin
Maryland (Zone 7a)
Region: Mid-Atlantic Butterflies Forum moderator Native Plants and Wildflowers Bee Lover Echinacea
Region: Maryland Garden Photography Cottage Gardener Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015 The WITWIT Badge
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Catmint20906
Aug 3, 2014 7:25 AM CST
PS --Some of the major resources I've been drawing from in my own notes regarding larval hosts, pollinators, and other beneficial insects are:

HOST plant database http://www.nhm.ac.uk/research-curation/research/projects/hos...

NPIN Native Plant Database http://www.wildflower.org/plants/

Xerces Society Guide to Attracting Native Pollinators (hardcopy)

Heather Holm, Pollinators of Native Plants (hardcopy--love this book)

Monarch Way Station program http://www.monarchwatch.org/waystations/

Beneficial Insects: http://ferncreekdesign.org/beneficialinsects.pdf


"One of the pleasures of being a gardener comes from the enjoyment you get looking at other people's yards”
― Thalassa Cruso
[Last edited by Catmint20906 - Aug 3, 2014 8:03 AM (+)]
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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
Aug 3, 2014 8:12 AM CST
Catmint, I think it's wonderful that you are putting these comments/info. in the db! And I thank you. I hope you will continue to fill out the db with this kind of info. when you are done with the plants in your own yard. I know it makes a difference to me to be able to find the info. right there along with the rest of the db entry for a plant.

It can be extremely difficult to track down info. on plants or the insects that visit them. I have been going through the db for a particular genus or species of plant & trying to fill in the data on ones that are incomplete or missing all together. When I finish one, I will "adopt" another one & go through all the plants belonging to that one. In the process of this, I have found directly conflicting info. numerous times. What happens a lot on the internet is someone writes something somewhere & then that gets copied somewhere else & so on & so forth until it's all over the internet as gospel. Last night I found one in particular where everything I found said the plant had maroon blooms EXCEPT one reference which said the blooms on that particular cultivar are GREEN. There are no photos anywhere for anyone to check so who's to know? Well, that one reference is THE one that is a scientific paper & held to be extremely reliable. So I changed the bloom color from maroon to green.
Just an example of how tricky it can be & sometimes we have to make judgement calls.
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: Catmint/Robin
Maryland (Zone 7a)
Region: Mid-Atlantic Butterflies Forum moderator Native Plants and Wildflowers Bee Lover Echinacea
Region: Maryland Garden Photography Cottage Gardener Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015 The WITWIT Badge
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Catmint20906
Aug 3, 2014 8:26 AM CST
I totally agree, Melanie! So many conflicting sources on the internet. I'm with you in trying to think about the relative reliability of different sources when I've decided which to follow (or not)! Thumbs up
"One of the pleasures of being a gardener comes from the enjoyment you get looking at other people's yards”
― Thalassa Cruso

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