A Cornucopia of Butterflies

moon phase Week of 07/25/2010 Good Days For Planting Melons, Cucumbers, Pumpkins, And Other Vine Crops

Question Mark butterfly Question Mark butterfly Sometimes when it rains, it pours and pours and pours like it did at around noon today. Lately it doesn't ever seem to rain unless it pours and today it came down hard enough to lay some of the garden flowers down. It's sad to see a bed of pretty red bee balm laid on its side by a hard rain or wind. Some of the tall sunflowers were also bent over. Some of them I can stake up, but the bee balm is a lost cause, I'm afraid.

I learned years ago that when it's hot and humid and a very hard rain comes, it's time to take a rain shower. I love to grab a bar of soap and stand out in the pounding rain and lather up. Great Spangled Fritillary Great Spangled Fritillary Within a couple of minutes I'm squeaky clean from head to toe. These are by far the most refreshing showers I have ever taken-and they are Naturally Free.

The sun broke through after the storm cloud passed but the water kept coming. That much rain in such a short time has no place to go except down the hill. The water flowed from every valley and ravine, and quickly the little meadow stream swelled to three times its normal size. The muddy water came down the stream so fast it made a muffled roar that could be heard from the house. It's the third time in a month the water rose to flood stage in the little creek. Tawny-edged Skipper Tawny-edged Skipper This morning the Kickapoo River was very close to pouring over its banks, which always makes me think of the Cliff swallows. Some of the old country bridges that cross the river are in danger of filling completely with water, thus washing away any swallows' nests. Hundreds of Swallows' nests with young can be lost when the floods come in June and early July.

Early foggy mornings with dew-covered grass are one of my favorite times to take a walk. It was worth getting wet shoes and pant legs to get a closer look at some pretty white blossoms of the Water hemlock. Red Admiral Red Admiral I had to wade through waist-deep wet grass to get a better look at some beautiful Turk's cap lilies near the river. There are so many summer wild flowers to see but they are here for only a short time. I never feel I'm going out of my way for a closer look at a beautiful flower because they are the very reason I like to walk. I've never regretted taking the time to slow down and rub shoulders with Nature.

Every week there are new insects to see, and, like the flowers, I like to get a closer look. Sometimes I think the insects like to get a closer look at me, like the Mayfly that landed on my hand while I worked in the garden this morning.

Silver-spotted Skipper Silver-spotted Skipper It's a good year for the milkweeds and there are several nice patches of them in the meadow. The pink blossoms of the Common milkweed attract many different kinds of butterflies and other insects. Some are attracted to the pretty pink flowers, which are pollinated by bees, beetles and bugs of all kinds. The patches of milkweed are like little classrooms for learning how to identify a whole host of insects. It's also a very good place to take some photos and see who likes to feed on the milkweed. The butterflies always seem more beautiful when they are in contrast with the lush, green milkweed leaves. Wood Nymph butterfly Wood Nymph butterfly With luck, some of these lovely flying flowers will lay their eggs on the underside of the leaves, and maybe next year there will be even more butterflies.

I planted the milkweed in the meadow with seeds I collected and simply scattered several years ago. To attract more butterflies to the place you live is a simple process. It's as easy as stuffing some milkweed seeds in your pockets and later scattering them where you want them. Some of the beautiful insects and butterflies I saw today include the subtle but lovely Question Mark, the colorful orange Great Spangled Fritillary, the tiny Tawny-edged Skipper, the multi-colorful Red Admiral, the showy, Silver-spotted Skipper, the Wood Nymph, the striking black and red Milkweed Bug and the always present black and yellow Bumble Bee.

Milkweed bug Milkweed bug The Common milkweed isn't the only member of the milkweed family that provides for the butterflies. The Joe-pye weed and orange Butterfly milkweed are also very beneficial for butterflies, as well as Marsh milkweed, Ironweed, and Prairie milkweed.

The truth is, I'm never sure whether there will be any butterflies from year to year. The past couple of decades have been kinda iffy for butterflies and I'm never sure how many I'll see each summer. This seems to be a better-than-average year for them, but I still question how sustainable their numbers are.

Family of Sandhill Cranes Family of Sandhill Cranes The berry patch has been kind to me this year, providing me with purple lips whenever I'm near it. The Black caps are fat, numerous, and juicy-sweet this year. There's enough to go around and the wild birds are thoughtful enough to leave me as many as I need. Just like the wild birds, I find these sweet treats of summer irresistible.

Now an update on the patient male Sandhill crane who waited seven weeks, while his mate incubated her eggs. Normally it takes 3 to 4 weeks for the eggs to hatch, but she was on her hidden nest in the marsh twice as long. Until this morning, I hadn't seen her since May. There she was together again with her mate and with two downy chicks at their feet. I'm not sure but maybe the first nest was abandoned for some reason and she laid two new eggs. They all looked happy and healthy, proving that persistence pays.

Naturally yours,

Dan

 

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Comments

colleen from from North Carolina on August 18, 2010 at 11:36:27 AM
I love your nature writings
can you share your wealth of information regarding butterflies--do they sleep at night + where? how long do they live? + anything else you know about them I love them too + cry if I think I have hit one with the car. I look forward to your email Natures Path
Alicia from from 309 S. Locust st. Mesquite,TX 75149 on August 18, 2010 at 10:50:12 AM
allways wondered what kind of plants Butterflys liked i love butterflys they are so beautiful now I know what they like. Thank You!
Penny from from Wisconsin on August 13, 2010 at 09:54:53 AM
Very interessting article. The pictures are fantastic. We have part of our acre and a quarter naturalized and have enjoyed every visitor.
Thank your for writing a greatemail.
Elaine from from Hernando, FL on July 30, 2010 at 08:01:13 PM
It is me again, I too have seen a lot more butterflies and moths. Only one hummingbird so far. I live in a residental area, so I am lucky to see any wildlife, but tonight my husband and I were watering my above ground vegetable garden and a wee little bunny came over to where the birdseed falls and has made a fence of sort out of corn stalks. He heard us and scampered off. We had worried because this is the first year we haven't had bunnies. We have seen more black snakes though.
Just loved this week's article, felt like I was there, you write so that we can picture everything. I am going to tell my husband about taking a rain shower. He grew up in Fl and has played in the rain all his life. He is 70 now and still likes to be out in the rain. silly person, love him
Diane from from Worcester, NY+12197 on July 30, 2010 at 08:41:28 AM
I treasure all of your wonderful nature articles! I too take the time to enjoy all of the nature that is around me! Thank you for your continued expressions. Diane
Joan from from Muncie, Indiana on July 29, 2010 at 08:54:25 PM
A rain bath! That sounds so delicious! If I didn't live in the city, I'd try it in the very next rainstorm! ;-)
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