Sunday, November 23, 2008

BUTTERFLY FALL

OK, I had to post a few pictures of the butterflies and moths that have been congregating outside my front door the last several weeks. The weather down here in south-central Texas has been fabulous, I don't know if this is our prelude to major global warming trends or not, but I must say for right now I am enjoying it. Usually our area of Texas gets about 3 or 4 weeks of beautiful, perfect weather in the spring and the fall and then it either slips into hot, humid summers or cold, damp winters but this year is certainly an exception. Our summer gradually faded into cooler nights in the 40's and 50's and gorgeous fall days in the 70's and 80's - and it has stayed like that for the longest period of time that I can remember. It's been like that for months now! I think we only had about 1 or 2 real cold fronts so far this fall and even then no freezes that killed off anything. The butterflies and moths are taking advantage of the climate and they are collectively habitating my fall orange Cosmos, which are still in bloom by the way - at the end of November! I have soooo many different species of butterflies and moths right now, there is no way I can identify them all. Several of them can't sit still for pictures either, so you are getting the click and post for the few that did. I am not a butterfly expert by any means, so those of you out there that are, please correct my identifications if I'm wrong so I can learn more. Also there are at least 2 pictured below that I would love to ID so please help if you can! Here they are:

These, I believe are called 'QUEEN' butterflies. They are really beautiful! They're about the size of a Monarch. And I have TONS of them flying around right now. They outnumber the other species by at least 2 to 1. They seem to be torn between visits to the Cosmos for nectar or hanging out on the Milkweed/Butterfly Weed plants.


I think the butterfly pictured to the left is called a' GULF COAST FRITTILARY'. These guys all seemed to be going crazy over the orange Cosmos. In years past it seems like I had a lot more of them but this year the numbers have been slimmer. I still have plenty of Passion Flower Vines for the larva, in fact probably more than previously, but this species has not been out in full force like in years past. I don't use herbicides or pesticides, only organic materials in my gardens so I don't think that would be the reason. It remains a puzzle to me. Any ideas???

















Now these two guys I think are called 'VARIEGATED FRITILLARIES', but that is just a guess based on what I see in my butterfly ID book. They look very moth-like, but I do think they are classified as a butterfly. I wish the pictures were better because they have awesome color variations on their wings. Hopefully you can tell from my shots. Someone correct me on the ID if I am wrong.
OK, here we have 'BUCKEYE' which has the most unique large spots that look like eyes staring back at you on the wings. I have several of them flying around right now and they are actually kind of easy to photograph - I just didn't get a good one! There is a video clip with Buckeyes at the end of this post, maybe you can get a better view that way.
















OK, now this one really has me puzzled and this is a really neat little guy! I think it is a moth because of the hooked antennae but I'm not sure. He has this awesome long, straight tail (wings actually) and a big white stripe on the underside of the wings. It's hard to tell his size from the pictures but I'd say it's about the size of a medium butterfly like a Fritillary, it's not a little thing by any means. What is it???!!!! Please help me ID I can't find it anywhere in my books and it's driving me nuts to find out what this is. Even without a positive ID, it's a pretty species to watch.....!

Here we have the dependable yellow butterfly, of which species I am not sure. Is it a 'SULPHER'? I don't know, but one thing I am sure of is they are usually the first ones out in the spring and the last ones to leave in the fall. Even on those days when the butterflies are are nowhere to be seen, I can usually spot some species of yellow around somewhere! ID please....thank you!






And for my last unidentified species that had assembled at the nectar feast, here you go.... Moth? Butterfly? Whatever he is he has spectacular coloration and he was different then all of the others. And he held still long enough for a picture - any ideas?


Below, Buckeyes at work....(or play?!)




video

Saturday, November 1, 2008

MONARCHS & MIST FLOWERS


I have been totally enjoying myself this weekend at the local Fall Festival at the Antique Rose Emporium! Every year they hold this event and every year I can't wait to go again! The gardens out there are spectacular and they have speakers presenting throughout each day on a variety of plant and nature topics. This is a free event, open to all and it is exciting to see so many new faces each year as people from the community and from afar gather to hear about and discuss plant topics! This morning we were all greeted by throngs of Monarchs and other assorted butterflies and moths as we passed by a long row of White Mist Flower (Eupatorium wrightii) in full bloom. It will be hard to convey the full effect of the onslaught of butterflies, moths, and assorted bees that were attacking these white flowers through a video clip, but I assure you, no one passed without taking notice and at least saying, "Wow!" If you live in the south and you want a great butterfly plant, try White Mist Flower planted in masses!


















video