Tag Archive | butterfly

Eastern Comma ~ Polygonia comma

Eastern Comma ~ Polygonia comma on Pachysandra terminalis ‘Green Carpet’

Butterflies in the genus Polygonia are collectively referred to as anglewings. The eastern comma (Polygonia comma), is also known as the comma angelwing and the hop merchant.

In earlier years, farmers growing hops are said to have used the brilliant metallic markings on the Eastern Comma‘s chrysalis (which they found in numbers on their crop) to forecast the season‘s prices: if the markings were golden, the Hop prices would be high; if they were silver, the prices would be lower. Hence, the species‘ other common name, hop merchant.

When they aren’t feeding on rotting fruit, tree sap, salts and minerals from puddling and dung, males perch on leaves or tree trunks to watch for females. Females lay eggs in rows on host plants; all members of the elm and nettle families including American elm (Ulmus americana), hops (Humulus), nettle (Urtica), false nettle (Boehmeria cylindrica), and wood nettle (Laportea canadensis). Caterpillars are usually solitary and feed on leaves at night. Older caterpillars make daytime shelters by pulling leaf edges together with silk. Winter-form adults hibernate, some first migrating to the south.

A Papago Butterfly Legend

One day the Creator was resting, sitting, watching some children at play in a village. The children laughed and sang, yet as he watched them, the Creator’s heart was sad. He was thinking: “These children will grow old. Their skin will become wrinkled. Their hair will turn gray. Their teeth will fall out. The young hunter’s arm will fail. These lovely young girls will grow ugly and fat. The playful puppies will become blind, mangy dogs. And those wonderful flowers – yellow and blue, red and purple – will fade. The leaves from the trees will fall and dry up. Already they are turning yellow.” Thus the Creator grew sadder and sadder. It was in the fall, and the thought of the coming winter, with its cold and lack of game and green things, made his heart heavy.

Yet it was still warm, and the sun was shining. The Creator watched the play of sunlight and shadow on the ground, the yellow leaves being carried here and there by the wind. He saw the blueness of the sky, the whiteness of some cornmeal ground by the women. Suddenly he smiled. “All those colors, they ought to be preserved. I’ll make something to gladden my heart, something for these children to look at and enjoy.”

The Creator took out his bag and started gathering things: a spot of sunlight, a handful of blue from the sky, the whiteness of the cornmeal, the shadow of playing children, the blackness of a beautiful girl’s hair, the yellow of the falling leaves, the green of the pine needles, the red, purple, and orange of the flowers around him. All these he put into his bag. As an afterthought, he put the songs of the birds in, too.

Then he walked over to the grassy spot where the children were playing. “Children, little children, this is for you,” and he gave them his bag. “Open it; there’s something nice inside,” he told them. The children opened the bag, and at once hundreds and hundreds of colored butterflies flew out, dancing around the children’s heads, settling on their hair, fluttering up again to sip from this or that flower. And the children, enchanted, said that they had never seen anything so beautiful.

The butterflies began to sing, and the children listened smiling. But then a songbird came flying, settling on the Creator’s shoulder, scolding him, saying: “It’s not right to give our songs to these new, pretty things. You told us when you made us that every bird would have his own song. And now you’ve passed them all around. Isn’t it enough that you gave your new playthings the colors of the rainbow?” “You’re right,” said the Creator. “I made one song for each bird, and I shouldn’t have taken what belongs to you.”

So the Creator took the songs away from the butterflies, and that’s why they are silent. “They’re beautiful even so!” he said.

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

Skipper on Agastache

I love Skipper Butterflies!! They are always very friendly and will land on an outstretched finger. Maybe only for a moment, as their energy level is so high, they must skip on to the next flower. The Agastache (Hyssop) I was planting that day had these guys going nuts for the nectar, as there wasn’t much still blooming at the time.

Although the skipper had me thinking cutie thoughts, This post is really about this amazing plant.

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Agastache, also known as Hummingbird Mint, is essential to a pollinator friendly garden. Agastache plants are not on the menu for browsing deer and rabbits. Sometimes known as Hyssop, Hummingbird Mints are a showy, fragrant group of perennial herbs that as their name suggests, attract hummingbirds. Perhaps best of all, they offer color to the garden in late summer and early fall, when many gardens are winding down and getting a bit dull.

Hyssop are an easy group of plants to grow and are native to the United States. They are in the mint family, thus they have square stems. They can take most exposures, if water is adequate, although they do not like wet soils. They grow to about 3′ and can bloom for a very long time, from July through October.

Other facts:

  • Bees are attracted to the late-blooming flower which results in a light, anise-scented honey.
  • In traditional folk herbal medicine, hyssop tea has been used to help assist digestion. Native Americans also used hyssop as a medication to cure wounds, fevers, cough and diarrhea.
  • Hyssop is also effective in relieving pains in the chest, due to excessive coughing. It can help expel mucus, making it ideal for treating colds.
  • A poultice prepared with the leaves and stems of the hyssop plant may be used to heal burn injuries.
  • Put fresh or dried anise hyssop leaves in cheesecloth and hang from the tub faucet, letting the water flow over the herbs.  The scent from the hyssop will help calm agitated nerves.
  • Along with mental calming, it can also provide pain relief to sore muscles via a warm bath.  Hyssop is also supposed to curb nightmares.
  • Aside from therapeutic uses, hyssop is also used for culinary purposes. Fresh leaves and flowers can be added to salads and fruit salads as well as use it in the form of a garnish. Alternately, you may use fresh or dried up leaves with chicken, lamb, salmon as well as some vegetable dishes like peas.
  • Hyssop leaves can be used as a substitute for anise or mint.

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Monarch Butterfly on Liatris

Finally! A Monarch Sighting!!

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Last year, I thought I saw the most amount of monarchs ever. Throughout the whole season, I saw many. This year, not so many. In fact, this one was the first one I’ve seen this year. As you can see, he’s enjoying Liatris, which is a late season flower. He is probably on his way south to over-winter in Mexico.


© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Unknown Common Brown Skipper

This poor guy was so beat-up I couldn’t figure out an ID for him. I’m going to guess Hayhurst’s Scallopwing (Staphylus hayhurstii), however I wasn’t ballsy enough to put it in the title. I am confident that he is a skipper of some sort, so I’ll discuss some skipper traits.

The skipper butterfly is part of the Hesperiidae butterfly family and is subdivided into seven subfamilies: Hesperiinae (grass skippers),  Coeliadinae, Euschemoninae, Eudaminae (dicot skippers), Pyrginae (spreadwings),  Heteropterinae (monocot skippers), and Trapezitinae (found only in Oceania).

Skippers wings appear small because of their much thicker body. The typical skipper butterfly shape is a thick body, large head and short triangular-shaped forewings.  Antennae are separated at the base and the tips appear very bulbous and curved.

They are called skippers due to their pattern of flight fly. They skip from flower to flower in a quick, erratic manner rather than a graceful flight pattern like other butterfly species. Kind like me when I’ve had too much coffee!

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Skipper on trillium.


© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Pearl Crescent ~ Phyciodes tharos

The Pearl Crescent is a very common butterfly in the eastern United States. It is also one of the hardest butterflies to identify with certainty, because of two very similar looking cousins, the Northern and Tawny Crescents. I’m hoping I picked the right one with this ID 😉

They love to inhabit woodland edges, roadsides, and open fields. I saw this one at Illinois State Beach.

They usually have two broods a season. The first occurs from early May through early July, with the second brood occurring in August through mid September.

Caterpillars like to eat species of smooth-leaved true asters.
Nectar from a many of flowers feed the adults including shepherd’s needle, dogbane, swamp milkweeds, asters and winter cress.

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This one was enjoying some clover.


© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Red Admiral – Vanessa atalanta (Take two)

These guys were everywhere last weekend! They were flying around some damaged trees. They like fermented tree sap and other fermented things. My kind of butterfly!! They weren’t as big as the ones I saw last year, however that was later in the year. They like moister atmosphere and this location was near a river.

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© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Phavorite Photos from 2015 – Part 2

Here is the long awaited Part deux!

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Ah, Monarch butterflies on Joe Pye weed. I haven’t seen so many since I was a small child. We used to find the cocoons and allow them to hatch in front of our eyes.

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These were from the Garden of the Gods in Illinois. To the left is the Devils Smokestack. On the right, allow your imagination to run wild. =-)

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I enjoyed fall at the Brownie Haus. They, like my muse, have gone south for the winter.

The coyote was an interesting sight.

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I have a camerone, which means I do not have a zoom lens. If I get a macro shot of something, it means that I was within 2 feet of the subject. Most plants don’t mind this and pose for me. Mobile things generally want to get away from the pink, hairless gorilla looming overhead. This Cloudless Sulphur was enjoying the shade I was providing.

Hmm, seem to have slipped another waterfall photo from the Japanese Garden. I’d love to see this out my back door.

Hubby and the boys in the middle of the actual Cave-in-Rock. Very fun and peaceful place.

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This little guy Green Treefrog – Hyla cinerea was a rare treat to see. I will always remember you Kermit!

Acer shirasawanum ‘Aureum’ known as ‘The Full Moon Maple’ or “Golden Full Moon maple”. So beautiful.

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These were taken at the Gross Reservoir / Dam and South Border Creek ~ Colorado. These are the ultimate favorites of mine from 2015.

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This one was on the way up to the Fourth of July Trail head.

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Am I officially old if I think this is funny????

Copyright – Ilex Farrell

Monarch Butterflies

I love monarch butterflies! Butterflies in general are so whimsical and make me feel 12 again. I was lurking through my media files and happened upon this folder labeled ‘fall walk’. Well, that was a pretty uneventful title for a nice set of pretty flutter-bys!! I’m not even sure where these were taken, but who cares 😉 Just enjoy them.

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imageThey like the late season bonanza found on Joe Pye Weed and the Queen Anne’s Lace make nice landing pads.

The origin of names has always fascinated me. So, who was Joe Pye? I found a website/blog that did quite a large amount of research on the topic. You can read the full post here at: Prairie Works – Land Stewardship & Ecological Restoration. However, if you want the Cliff’s Notes version:

Joseph Pye of Stockbridge could have had an ancestor from Salem who treated colonists for typhus thereby making his “fame and fortune,” or his name might have been a corruption from a hypothetical Indian word for typhus or some similar disease.  But I ask: Why not embrace the hard evidence that Joseph Pye was a Mohegan sachem who lived in western Massachusetts precisely where Eaton tells us that “Joe Pye’s Weed” was in “common use” as a treatment for typhus; that he lived his notable life there just a few decades before Eaton remarks on Joe Pye’s Weed; that the president of the college where Eaton lectured believed that he successfully treated his fever with a tea made from Joe Pye’s Weed; that Joseph Pye was educated by Samson Occam, himself an herbalist?  All this is substantiated and frankly I believe makes a better story than any borne of speculation.

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Of course, monarchs love milkweed. If everyone could just plant a few of these in their yard, we would truly be able to help their populations.

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© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Hackberry Emperor – Asterocampa celtis

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These little cuties have about a 2 inch wing span and like to hang out near wooded streams, river banks and wooded roadsides. They are on wing from May through October.

Hackberry Butterflies tend to fly in a fast and erratic manner and rest upside down on tree trunks. Males like to perch on tall objects in sunny areas to watch for the females below.

Eggs are laid in clusters and the young caterpillars feed communally on various hackberries (Celtis species) and sugarberry (Celtis laevigata). Caterpillars overwinter in groups gathered inside dead rolled leaves.

Adults love to dine on sap, rotting fruit, excrement, carrion. They enjoy small puddles along roadways and paths.

 

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl