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Eastern Amberwing Dragonfly – Perithemis tenera

We were kayaking last August in Wisconsin, when this little gentleman needed a rest and sat on my husband’s finger. The male’s wings are tinted amber with yellow veins and red stigmas (near the tips of wings). The female’s wings are variable with brown spots and red stigmas. Length of their bodies vary from 0.8 to 1.0 inches. The thorax is mostly brown with short, thin dorsal stripes and yellowish side spots. The abdomen is short and stout with variable patterns, either not striped or with narrow brown stripes.

For a dragonfly, Amberwings are reported to have the most intricate courtship dance. After the male selects possible egg-laying sites for a mate, he flies off to find a female and brings her back to his potential nursery. To attract her, he sways back and forth with his abdomen raised. Mating only occurs if the female approves – making this one of the few dragonflies species where the females choose the males.

© 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

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