Sunday, August 14, 2016

Now Is the Season For Insects

Tiger swallowtail on Liatris spicata

This year August has brought back the big butterflies. I've got monarch eggs on the milkweed finally and I've tallied more than 35 so far this year. 35 is a high number it seems, but I've been out photographing sites for work, which means spending a lot of time in prairies, woods, and wetlands. Need a butterfly fix? Head to the prairie or bring a piece to your own backyard.

I've planted the raingarden primarily in native prairie plants because their deep roots hold the soil in place and absorb more water. This year, many of them have reached the three year mark so I have a bevy of purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), gayfeather (Liatris spicata), bee balm (Monarda sp.), blue vervain (Verbena hastata) and black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia sp.) attracting a wealth of insects. Not to mention a lot of milkweed.

Zabulon skipper on Rudbeckia

The swallowtails have been casing out the place, although I haven't found a caterpillar - yet. We have a smattering of skippers, tons of bees, wasps, flies, bugs, and spiders. It's been remarkable how determined the bees are to get to the nectar of the bee balm. There are only a few florets left here and there, and still, they are magnets. Some bee species cut into the base of the flower for a quick sip instead of trying to negotiate the long tubular florets. Adding a few native plants really does make a difference!

Skipper on Echinacea

Crab spider defending its territory.

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