Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Butterflies and Caterpillars

      One fun thing about gardening is observing the various kinds of wildlife that visit vegetable and flower gardens.  I purposefully mix flowers in with the vegetables to attract beneficial insects or ornamental insects like butterflies.

Monarch Butterfly on sunflower

Yellow Swallowtail on pink phlox

Unknown butterfly on Black Eyed Susan
Black Swallowtail resting on pepper leaf
      These butterflies are attracted to the garden by flowers such as phlox, zinnias, butterfly weed, butterfly bush, and Joe Pye Weed.

Joe Pye Weed
Butterfly weed

      This butterfly weed, is attractive to butterflies as both a nectar source and as food for the caterpillars who munch on the leaves.  I grew these plants from seed I had collected from two plants that I had previously purchased.  The plants now have nice seed pods that will allow me to repeat the process for next year's caterpillar food supply.
      Plants such as milk weed, dill, and fennel serve as food sources for various caterpillars.  Growing some of these will also increase your chances for attracting butterflies.

My park garden Bronze Fennel
Bronze Fennel with black swallowtail caterpillar
Black swallowtail to be

Bronze fennel flowers
      The bronze fennel is putting out more and more volunteers at the park.  I should be able to harvest some seed as well if anyone is interested.  Yesterday I counted seven caterpillars munching on the bronze fennel.  Maybe next year will be a particularly good black swallowtail year.
      After I posted this blog this morning, a painted lady visited my garden.  That is a painted lady butterfly.

Painted Lady Butterfly,  September 11,  2012
Same Lady, September 11,  2012

1 comment:

  1. You really got some wonderful shots of the butterflies and caterpillars, George. I have only seen the yellow swallowtails this year. But it has been hot and humid so they may be hiding.

    Thank you for sharing such beauty!