Often as not, I spend a little time in the garden each morning. Itís a good way to get some warm rays and listen to all the birds singing their happy songs. All was the same as the day before except for one thing, there were butterflies everywhere. Small black butterflies with a flash of orange / red on their wings were playing all around me.
While pulling weeds under a rose bush, one of these beautiful flowers with wings landed on a nearby bud. It was a red admiral. Slowly beating his wings, he let me get a good look at him before off he went to another flower.
So far its been a good summer for watching butterflies but I've seen mostly the smaller types like fritillaries, hairstreaks, red spotted purples, eyed browns and red admirals.
The large butterflies like the black or yellow swallow tails and monarchs have been pretty scarce so far but I'm optimistic that they'll show up. This time last year the large butterflies appeared earlier here in the Kickapoo Valley but the warm weather came earlier.
At the end of the garden is a patch of milkweed and I noticed quite a few large striped, hairless caterpillars who were munching away at the leaves. This is the favorite food for the larva of the monarch butterfly. Soon they will spin a chrysalis around their bodies and hang attached to a stem until they emerge in a few weeks as a beautiful orange and black butterfly.
One of the main reasons for planting lots of flowers is to attract butterflies. They make the garden come alive as they flutter from flower to flower. They don't seem to have a preference and will land on any flower they see in bloom. They drink the nectar and the pollen sticks to their legs and feet and is spread from one flower to the next.
Anyone who gardens organically is assuring a healthy environment for all beneficial insects. Itís the best way of making sure that there will always be butterflies in your garden.
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