Butterflies and Zinnias

I see that I have already been posting pictures of butterflies and zinnias this year, but that is where the action currently is, so here are a few more pictures.

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Black swallowtail butterfly on zinnia.

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So many delicate parts and such an intricate design.

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I decided to look for black swallowtail caterpillars on the curly parsley today and I saw a total of four caterpillars on three parsley plants.  The picture above is of a medium size caterpillar.  There was one that was much bigger near the house.

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Here is a tiny black swallowtail caterpillar just getting started.  I was watching the butterfly laying more eggs on parsley this week.

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Black swallowtail butterfly and monarch butterfly on zinnias.  Today I was in the garden and saw three butterflies just a few feet from me.  One was a silver spotted skipper butterfly, which I have not seen since last year.

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A few days ago I took this shot of the zinnias and, in front of them, the pole beans.  It has been dry recently, but yesterday we got a downpour, with two inches of rain, so that should keep the flowers blooming and the zucchini coming.

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Monarch butterfly on zinnia.

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Monarch on red zinnia.

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Eastern tiger swallowtail on zinnia.

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Here you can see the butterfly’s face.

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From the kitchen window I took this picture of the eastern tiger swallowtail butterfly on the white phlox.

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The most frequent flying visitor is the cabbage white butterfly.  Unfortunately, our yard is a wonderful habitat.

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Here are the collard leaves that have been chewed by the cabbage worms.

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The male American goldfinch pulls the petals off the zinnias.

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Here the goldfinch reaches up to work on the sunflower that is hanging down.

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Now that the yucca plant has pods the downy woodpecker likes to come and work on them.  There are worms inside those seeds pods he is trying to get.

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I like the woodpecker’s  portrait pose!

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Smaller orange zinnias along the east fence.

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Something else along the fence that is orange, but not so attractive, are these milkweed bugs that have been maturing on the swamp milkweed. They feed on the seeds, leaves, and stems of the milkweed.

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Our neighbor decided to grow cherry tomatoes on the fence this year, and they are starting to ripen on our side of the fence.

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Yesterday we took down a rather tired common lilac bush and planted this fothergilla bush.  Fothergilla major ‘Mt. Airy’ is supposed to be 5 to 8 feet tall, so the goal is to have it grown up to provide privacy from our neighbor’s deck.  But this shrub might take a while to grow, so it might not be very effective for a while…

Swallowtails, Hummingbirds And Other Flying Creatures

This time of year it is fun to see the variety of pollinators that visit the garden.  The eastern tiger swallowtail butterfly posed nicely for me, but it is always a challenge to get good hummingbird pictures.

IMG_9849Eastern tiger swallowtail butterfly on zinnia

IMG_9817This eastern tiger swallowtail hung out with wings open quite a bit making it easier to photograph and to identify it as a male butterfly by its markings.   Dill flowers were blooming behind the zinnias.

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I think this is a question mark butterfly sunning on the fence.  It looks a little tattered.  I took a picture of another one a few weeks ago.

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I was trying to capture this monarch butterfly on the milkweed, but the camera wanted to focus on the trunk of the crabapple tree.

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Here is another attempt to get a shot of the monarch fluttering above the milkweed.  I love the colorful outdoor flower arrangement of this shot!

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The hummingbird competes with the butterflies for the same flowers.  Here it chased away the monarch butterfly and is enjoying the swamp milkweed.

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The hummingbird enjoys the neighbors’ hibiscus flowers.

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Here the camera caught the fast-moving hummingbird, but it is at the edge of the picture….

IMG_9687Hummingbird on garden fence.  I think I have mostly seen females.

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We don’t have a hummingbird feeder, but the neighbors on both sides do.  We just offer flower nectar….

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Hummingbird on Russian sage.

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I took this picture of the hummingbird visiting the coleus plant from the office window.  Later, while sitting on the patio, I watched a hummingbird check out every single white flower on the coleus plant before moving on.

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Hummingbird on white phlox.  Most of my pictures are kind of blurry like this, as I have to shoot quickly when the hummingbird shows up before it moves on.

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Wasps have taken up residence in the open fence posts around the garden this summer. They are good predators, but I keep out of their way.

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Wasp resting on hickory leaf

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A green dragonfly rests on a turnip leaf.  I am a dragonfly fan!

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Bee on coneflower.  Many kinds of bees are in the garden now.

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I have seen a few grasshoppers and crickets, but I am keeping my eyes open for a praying mantis, which I have not seen this year.

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The invasive viburnum leaf beetles are back.  They lay their eggs in the branches and in the spring the larvae will start chewing on the leaves.

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Last summer we cut these two Chicago Lustre viburnum bushes to the ground, but did not have the energy to dig out the roots, so they grew back quickly and have looked nice this year, but the beetle issue is not going away, so maybe next year we will find some other plants to replace them, or maybe not….

If you got through all this pictures you must like flying creatures!  I will leave my other bird pictures for another post!

Hungry Birds and Ripe Tomatoes

Here are a few pictures of birds looking for their next meal.  Besides some butterfly and flower pictures, I also have a few tomato shots.  This is the time in the garden when everything ripens and needs to be eaten or frozen or given away or something!

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We could see the male goldfinch working on the cone flower seeds from the kitchen window.

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Male downy woodpecker working on yucca seed pods.  Each year after the yucca plant finishes flowering I leave the ugly seed pods standing.  I understand that there is a moth that only lays her eggs on the yucca plant and the caterpillars grow up inside these protected seed pods.  That always brings the woodpecker to these plants by our front window and I love to watch the woodpecker working at the seed pods.

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Two baby robins in the lilac tree nest.  This must be the third set of baby robins that have come out of this nest.  The lilac has been having a terrible time this year, but this one tall branch has stayed green and been a good home for the robins.  It looks like there is some plastic around the bottom of the nest.

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Later in the week one of the baby robins was trying to look inconspicuous and waiting for Dad robin to bring something tasty to eat.  We seem to have a lot of juvenile robins in the yard this year.

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We spotted this hawk on a visit to the Morton Arboretum last week.  I am guessing it is a red-tailed hawk.  We spent time looking at the collection of trees native to Illinois and found Chinquapin oak and bitternut hickory trees, like the ones we have in our yard.

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Eastern tiger swallowtail butterfly on a cream-colored cone flowers at the Morton Arboretum.

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We stopped to watch a group of young people doing Japanese drumming.

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Back at home the monarch was flying around looking for milkweed so she could lay her eggs.  I don’t have a lot of healthy milkweed or butterfly weed this time of year, but she found every plant that I have as she flew back and forth.  Now we will see if eggs were laid and caterpillars emerge.

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Was this the same monarch sipping on zinnia nectar after the eggs were laid?  In the background the dill is blooming yellow.

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This dragonfly, perched on Russian sage, is probably a blue dasher.

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Orange marigold

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Amish paste tomatoes ripen

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We eat tomatoes very day, but just keep picking them.  The cherry tomatoes did not fit in this bucket.  The peppers are nice and red now, too.  I need to make some tomato sauce or spaghetti sauce this week.

Butterflies on Zinnias

It rained over 5 inches in 24 hours earlier this week and now it is hot and humid.  The vegetables like that.  It is also a busy time for the butterflies.  From my desk I can look out the window at the zinnias and it is fun to watch the visitors.

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This looks like the eastern tiger swallowtail that I was taking pictures of a few weeks ago on the agastache.  Most of the butterflies are looking somewhat tattered now.

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The zinnias in back are one variety that are 3 – 4 feet tall.  The ones in front are 2 – 3 feet tall.  The goldfinches have removed the petals from many of the flowers.  If you looks closely you can see both the eastern tiger swallowtail and a silver spotted skipper in this picture.

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Silver spotter skipper on zinnia.

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Silver spotted skipper on yellow nasturtium.  Here you can see how furry the back and legs are…

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Goldfinch feeding on zinnia.  Sometimes more than one goldfinch is working away at these flowers.  I guess they are getting something nutritious here.

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Once while I was taking pictures of butterflies this goldfinch landed nearby and then spotted me.  He kept and eye on me for a while, trying to decide whether to fly away or get a snack.

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I have seen the monarchs in the garden off and on this week.  This one’s wing is ripped, but it still enjoys its feast.  Often I see the butterflies flap their wings to get rid of bees and flies that are buzzing around them on nearby flowers.  Under the zinnia you can see a soldier beetle.  They are everywhere in the garden now.

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This is a picture of a monarch butterfly that I took maybe a month ago on a coneflower.  You can see how fresh and delicate the wings were at that time.  Maybe it had just emerged that day…

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On Monday there were several monarch butterflies on the agastache.  Look at all the pollen on the body.  When we had the 5 inches of rain the agastache tipped over.  I am currently leaning it against several lawn chairs and trying to get it to stand up again.

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Carpenter bee and monarch butterfly on agastache ‘blue fortune’ – giant hyssop.

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I believe this is an orange sulphur butterfly.  It looks like the cabbage whites, but with the pretty yellow color.

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The summer solstice zinnias are just starting to bloom now and will bloom until frost.  They are tiny yellow and orange flowers that really attracted the butterflies in the past, so I planted them again along the east fence, which is a sunny afternoon spot.

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My brother was another welcome visitor to the garden this summer.  Behind us you see the zebra grass which is showy now.

Swallowtails and Dragonflies

The agastace is in full bloom now and attracting butterflies and bees of all types.  I should have studied entomology!  I just checked out Sue Hubbell’s book about bugs, “Broadsides from the Other Orders.”

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I think this is a female eastern tiger swallowtail on the agastache ‘blue fortune’ giant hyssop plant.

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Here is a side view of the eastern tiger swallowtail on the hyssop.  I like the striped body.  It looks like she is using her proboscis to sip nectar.  Is that kind of like a straw?

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Limenitis arthemis – red spotted purple butterfly, I think, on agastache.  At first I thought it was a black swallowtail, but it does not have a tail.

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Here is a closed wing view of the red spotted purple butterfly on agastache.  You can see the pollen on its body.

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Just below the agastache a black swallowtail caterpillar is resting in the parsley.  There are a lot of hungry birds in the yard, though, so I am never sure if these guys will survive.

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Agastache ‘blue fortune’ giant hyssop.’  On the left is heliopsis helianthoides ‘Summer Sun.’  The agastache plant is really buzzing, mostly with bees and flies.

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I think this is a carpenter bee on the agastache.  In any case it is a very big bee.

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Here is a different kind of bee.  It looks a little more like a honey bee of some type.

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Red admiral butterflies are fairly common in the yard.  Here on Echinacea purpurea – purple coneflower.

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There are small white cabbage moths all over the yard.  Here on Russian sage with miscanthus ornamental grass in the background.

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One day I was looking out of the living room window and I saw something slide out of the bottom of the big silver maple tree.  I went outside with my camera and saw this yellow caterpillar with black spikes coming out of its back scurrying across the lawn.  Looking it up online I found that it is an American dagger moth caterpillar.  Apparently they leave the tree and look for a good place to make their cocoon.  The spikey hairs are poisonous.

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Red dragonfly on liatris spicata – blazing star – a native plant.  I saw a number of red dragonflies around the garden yesterday.  In Japanese the name is “aka tombo.”  If you look that name up on line you will hear a famous Japanese song.

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I was having lunch outside one day this week and almost did not see this big green dragonfly that rested on the butterfly weed near where I was sitting.

Praying Mantis update:  I have not seen any praying mantises in the yard this year.  Considering that I found 6 – 8 praying mantis egg sacs from last year I expected more.  It may have been the very cold winter or it may be that we really have a lot of bird in the yard this year eating the babies.  Or it may be some other reason.