Posts Tagged ‘butterflies’

Just this morning I posted this:

Out there is where the pipe vine grows. I planted it as a food supply for the pipevine swallowtail, in the fond hope that one would happen upon it and start a colony, but so far they have not shown up. I may be located too far from their usual habitat. But I love the vine anyway. Right now it is covered with little “dutchmen’s pipes”.


Well, I am happy to be proved wrong.

I was just out on the other side of the fence transplanting a spiderwort that had volunteered in the Stroll Garden.   While I was out there I took it upon myself to remove an oak tree that was volunteering as well as the ten thousandth mulberry, also volunteering.

I was making my way through the jungle toward the burn pile with my trophies when I noticed a caterpillar dining on the pipevine.    Of course, I had to take a picture so I could identify it.


Yes children!   That is the larva of the pipevine swallowtail butterfly.   There are other places on the vine showing evidence of happy diners.   I could not be more excited.

It just proves my point once again:   IF YOU BUILD IT, THEY WILL COME.



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I’ve been trying to get the garden put away for the winter.  This is a long and involved process.   Last year it included planting a cover crop in the garden, but I’m not sure this is going to happen this year.    I believe it may just be OBE.  In this case, the event is much traveling coupled with the fact I have not in fact ordered the seeds I would need in order to plant said cover crop.

However, I did get the jungle moved back inside from its summer quarters out under the pergola and on the north side of the house.   That was a HUGE job this year because Marvin, the giant peace lily in the far left corner of the picture below, required repotting this year, as did one of his compatriots.



I managed to get all the apple sauce made, and Jim and I also made pesto out of the 3 pounds of basil leaves we stripped off the basil I picked the other day.



One of the things that became evident during the course of events is that the remainders of applesauce are apparently quite delightful.   My compost pile has several very lovely visitors because of that being thrown on it.  There are also about a million flies out there too, but I didn’t take a picture of them.




In addition to the plant tenants and the compost tenants, I have quite a few amphibians around the place.   There is a very cute little toad who I never see when I have the camera.    However, there are several leopard frogs around, and they are so accustomed to me and Jim that they don’t get particularly concerned when we come across them.   Here is one in the pond, wondering why I have that thing that is not a fly stuck in its face.


Since we have finished picking and crushing the grapes, we decided it was high time we put the stemmer/crusher away.   We were moving it into the garden shed when a very upset little tree frog emerged from the innards of the machine and said, essentially, “What the hell are you doing?   I was hunting here.”   He hopped off the machine, and after we put it away, we looked around for him so we would not step on him.   I caught him and put him over on the compost pile where I had dumped the remains of the peace lily repotting operations.



There are at least three box turtles strolling about the place.   One of them was hiding under the hostas this morning.



None of my tenants really like being photographed, except possibly the plants.   Of course, they might not like it either, but it is difficult to tell how they feel.

Anyway, last but not least, I was admiring the pollinators flitting about the place, and this little tachnid fly caught my eye.   It was extremely cooperative in posing for me.   I had the supermacro function turned on, and the camera was about half an inch away from this insect, but rather than scurrying off, he tilted his wings “just so” and I was able to catch the iridescence on them nicely.



Well, I’d best be off to pick chard.   If I’m quick I can get it blanched before my afternoon group of clients.


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A while ago I was walking a client out to her car and as I returned to the house I noticed a big fat caterpillar hanging about on my rue plant.

“I must get a picture of that caterpillar, it is so interesting,” I said to myself.  “I wonder what kind it is?”   So I went to Google to figure it out, and found out it was the caterpillar of the Giant Swallowtail butterfly.

Then my client came for her massage, so no image was acquired, and when she left I went to get a picture and the caterpillar was GONE.   Disappeared.   I accused the grackles in the area of eating it.

This is what it looked like.   I found this image using Google and borrowed it from Bugfolks.

A while later, one of my observant clients pointed to something hanging right by the front door and wondered what it was.

“Oh!”  I replied, quite pleased.    “That is the chrysalis of a giant swallowtail butterfly.”   Mentally I apologized to the grackles for the murder accusation I had leveled their way previously.   I also congratulated my client on spotting the thing, as it really was quite well camouflaged.

I had no trouble identifying it, since it looked exactly like the caterpillar only it was all folded up.   It even shared the “bird dropping” coloration the caterpillar was notable for.   I was very impressed by how much the caterpillar shrank itself in order to form the chrysalis.

Really, I have a lot to thank my clients for, because this morning when my client arrived her first words were,  “There’s a butterfly out here.   I think it might be hurt.”

I looked out the door, and there on the wall right under the chrysalis was a giant swallowtail butterfly in the process of pumping fluid into its wings, having just freshly emerged from the now empty chrysalis.   I quickly let my client know exactly what she was seeing, called my mother from the living room (she had stopped by to visit me) to come admire, and left her explaining to my client about how butterflies have to move fluid into their new wings, which is why she was pumping them back and forth in the manner which made my client think perhaps she was wounded while I went and grabbed my camera.

One minute later:   Notice how the left tail has already gotten bigger in this image, and how much the lower wings have expanded.

“Would you care to step up onto my finger?”    “Yes, I believe I would.”

Meanwhile, I had sent my client into the room to prepare for the massage and my mother had bid me adieu and gone off to finish her errands in town.

The butterfly liked being on my hand.   It walked all over it, flexing its brand new wings all the while, and proceeded to promenade up my arm almost to my shoulder.    I had to do a massage, my client (bless her heart) was patiently waiting in the massage room while I disported myself in the garden with the butterfly.  It didn’t want to leave my hand, but I finally convinced it to dismount onto my aster plant.

Here is another little magic.   This is her ventral side.   How such a black butterfly can have such a pale “other” side is just magical to me.

After the massage was over, I went out to see how she was doing.   She was still resting on the aster, and I thought maybe I’d get another shot.   But as soon as she saw me moving down the steps, she flew away.   Our transitory connection was over, but I shall treasure the feeling of her feet clinging to my fingers as she walked all over my hand.

Hope there is something magical going on in your life today, too.

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I was supposed to be canning pickles (both dill and my sweet gherkins), plus I had apple sauce that was hot and waiting for the canner to heat up.  But before I got started packing the pint jars, I thought I would run out to the garden once more to look through the cucumber vines and see if I missed any.   I had.  So I picked them, and noticed that there were some tomatoes that also needed to be picked.   I needed a basket for that, so I started back to the house to get it.

As I scurried past the pond, I noticed that the apple mint was in full bloom.   It is taking full advantage of the lapse in memory I had a few weeks ago when I started the water running into the pond to fill it up, went inside and promptly forgot all about it.  In the morning as I was waiting for my teapot to fill so I could make coffee, I thought idly to myself,  “Gosh, the water pressure sure doesn’t seem to be as high as usual … OH SHOOT (expurgated for the blog)!!!  Whereupon I crashed out of the house, scaring the dog away from her breakfast, ran out to the garden to turn the spigot off and observed that the pond was approximately 5 inches over flood stage.  Further investigation showed that the water had flowed all the way down to the Petite Prairie, watering the day lily bed quite throughly.  The drain pipe at the other side of the vineyard was also trying to deal with the overflow.   I still have a green circle down there, where everything else is sere and brown.

But I digress.   The apple mint was blooming furiously, having been so well watered previously.   I just deviated from my course a bit to see if perhaps my honey bees were availing themselves of the pollen source.  They were.

The honeybees had lots of company out there.    I forgot all about pickles and apple sauce and went to get my camera.  I spent quite a while out there, standing quietly just inside the border of the mint patch.  When I first arrived with my camera, everyone got very excited and nervous about the big thing that had just disturbed the feeding frenzy.   But as I stood quietly, things settled down.   Here is a group of four different sorts of wasps, all intent on their food source.


The variety of pollinators present was impressive.

There were yellow jackets, of course.



Several different types of wasps were in attendance.


That big black wasp was at the large end of the size spectrum.   But there were teensy wasps too.


Some of the wasps were overcome with optimism for the future by the large quantity of food available.   The sudden onset of a good energy source put them in the mood, I guess.

The female went about the business of flying and eating as if the male wasn’t even present.

There were also several female bumblebees at the buffet.


A tachnid fly — one of several different varieties flitting about.


Butterflies –a buckeye and a little blue.   The little blue has a mud dauber wasp sharing the frame with her.


I saw a beautiful bright green sweat bee, but it didn’t stick around long enough to get photographed.   You can see what it looked like here.

There was an interesting beetle.

I’m not positive, but that may be an assassin bug, which means it isn’t strictly a pollinator, but more a pollinator eater.   They wait in flowers for the pollinators to come along, grab them and then suck the juices out of them.

Here’s another predator.   Probably not big enough to be a danger to anyone other than that tiny wasp above, or possibly a gnat or aphid.

That’s my finger holding the flower apart because the little crab spider wasn’t anxious to be photographed and kept hiding from me.   No escape from the paparazzi, I’m afraid.

There were a couple of dragonflies around too.   This is a rather small red one.

Just a few feet away is the pond, and this big blue dragonfly was hovering around there.

It was heartening to see all that life burgeoning in the yard, since it has been scorchingly hot for three weeks.    I mean really hot, too.   The temperatures have been over 100°F every day for three weeks, only cooling off into the low 80s at night.   (That would be 38° C for all the rest of the world.)   This heat has been accompanied by a complete absence of rain of any measurable amount.   We had a respite today, a line of storms came across the plains.   We got about 1mm of moisture out of that, enough to settle the dust (barely) and raise the humidity to about 90%.   Ergh.

This is what the garden along the back of the house looks like.   All those burned hostas are not dead, they are just conserving their energy and protecting their roots.   Still, it is a little depressing.   The Hosta Dell exhibits similar damage.

Please notice the lawn to the right of the path.   Our whole place looks just like that except around the landscape shrubs and trees, which we have been pampering with regular water.   This also encourages the grass, which gives the rabbits something other to eat than the fruit tree bark.   The rabbits out browsing gives the owls something to eat.

There is a note of hope in the middle of all that devastation.    The naked ladies have made their appearance.   I just love them, their combination of hardiness and delicacy is inspirational.

The pickles have been put through the canner and are cooling on the counter.   They are accompanied by 6 pints of apple sauce.

Now I believe I’ll get that basket and go out and investigate the tomato situation.








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Slow down, you move too fast
You got to make the morning last
Just kicking down the cobblestones
Looking for fun and feeling groovy
Ba da da da da da da, feeling groovy

Hello lamppost, what’cha knowing
I’ve come to watch your flowers growin’
Ain’t cha got no rhymes for me?
Doo-it in doo doo, feeling groovy
Ba da da da da da da, feeling groovy

I got no deeds to do
No promises to keep
I’m dappled and drowsy and ready to sleep
Let the morning time drop all its petals on me
Life I love you, all is groovy

(59th Street Bridge Song, Simon and Garfunkel)

I’ve been plagued by earworms lately, and this is the one that was going through my head this morning as Ruby and I walked the sun up this morning.  Frankly, it beats the heck out of the one I was suffering from yesterday, which was the title number from “Guys and Dolls.”

We arrived at the conservation area well before dawn.   The moon was high, and just the slightest tinge of pink was showing at the eastern horizon.   We had only gone a quarter of a mile when I saw something gleaming in the grassy verge by the path.   I picked it up, and discovered that it was an owl wing feather.    Beautiful.

A little scenario played itself out in my mind as I visualized the rabbit sitting near the wood’s edge, enjoying its evening repast; the stoop, the grab that doesn’t quite hit its mark allowing the rabbit to kick out and dislodge the feather as the owl bore it away for its dinner.

I mused on this idly as I continued my walk, and as I rounded the next corner I saw the owl, sitting in the top of the dead tree from where she likes to hunt.   I stopped short, told Ruby to sit, and we watched her survey the field.   Then she called, low hooting answered by a higher gabble of a juvenile owl from the deeper woods.   It seems that there have been hunting lessons going on.   I thought perhaps it was her youngster that missed the mark.  But no, she turned and saw me watching her, and as she gracefully left her perch to join the other owl in the deeper woods, I could see the gap in her wing feathers where the feather in my hand had been lost.

The other feathers in the arrangement are from a blue jay and a heron, also collected during dog walks in the past couple of weeks.  I came across the luna moth wings a couple of days ago, also while walking Ruby.   I searched for the lower pair of wings, but I suspect that a bat was the demise of this moth and the lower wings were consumed along with the thorax, while the larger upper wings flew off when the bat captured the moth.  The other butterfly wing came from Bennett Spring the day I collected the thousands of tiny ticks..

I love that last image, the super close-up of the eye on the luna moth wing.

There seem to be other eyes looking about the place today.

Not eyes, but beautiful this morning — lichens on my teak bench and society garlic sporting dew jewels.

The labyrinth was rather special this morning.   It needs to be mowed, of course, but it is bedizened with surprise lilies today.

This just proves that you can really neglect the bulbs of this plant.   I wanted them in the labyrinth, and three years ago dug a big cluster that was crowding out my chives.   Then I left them in a bucket for about five weeks because I got distracted by something or other and just never got back to them.   When I finally planted them, I realized that I might have been expending all that effort for nothing.   The following year I was sure I had wasted that energy, as there were no lilies at all.    But surprise, surprise!    They just had to recoup their losses, and now they are gorgeous.

I went off to the opthalmologist yesterday in search of answers about my sudden abundance of floaters and the meteoric flashes I experienced Thursday, and was once again reminded of the passage of years.   What a little cutie pie he was — not a bit older than my son.   And he called me Ma’am, an address which is the kiss of death to feeling youthful.

He dilated my eyes and made an extremely thorough examination, and he had good news for me.   All those floaters are really in there, not a figment of my imagination.   Since I described the way my floaters looked in terms of looking at pond water full of bacteria, protozoans and algae, he chose not to talk down to me when discussing my condition.   My retina is firmly attached all round in both eyes, and there are no bulges indicating that fluid has accumulated behind it.   I do have pavement degeneration, which seemed to please him since he doesn’t get to see it all that often and I guess it is interesting. (I looked  that up when I got home, and it is not really a big deal, just one of those things that goes along with becoming “Ma’am” and noticing that one’s perky boobs have obeyed the Law of Gravity and have descended waistward.)

I was sent home with a new spectacle prescription which will probably make my left eye stop feeling so tired, and instructions to come back for a re-check in 6 months.  The only caveat was if I see flashes that look like camera flashes, or something “draping across my vision that won’t go away.”   I guess meteor streaks are not such a big deal, it’s camera flashes you have to worry about.   “Don’t worry, be happy,” were his last words to me as I left his office.    (Thank goodness that didn’t become my next earworm!)

And so I returned home, feeling groovy and in love with life.  Just like the song.  Which is probably why I’ve been hearing it today.

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