I’m off to New York City tomorrow: Ugga Bugga, I’ll be in NYC until the 20th, and Drew will again be taking care of the home front solo. Then, I’ll be home for the rest of the summer, thank goodness. A coworker stopped by yesterday to chat (after a hay delivery), and as he was driving away, he called out, “Just think, school starts next month!” Thanks alot, David! Summer will be over way too soon, and I haven’t been home to enjoy it except for about 5 days thus far…

Butterflies and Caterpillars in a Florida butterfly garden: There are food plants galore for the caterpillars and butterflies. One must remember that each plant serves a purpose, and you must not worry if a plant gets eaten up (that’s what it is there for!) There is even parsley for Black Swallowtail caterpillars.

I photographed Black Swallowtail caterpillars in different stages of development (photos 1 & 2.) They were feeding on parsley. I also saw some monarch caterpillars feeding on a tropical giant milkweed tree (photo 3.)

A Giant Swallowtail butterfly was slowly fluttering from plant to plant, and spent a lot of time feeding on penta flowers. It has a wingspan of 6 inches, and is the largest butterfly in North America (along with the female tiger swallowtail.) (photos 4-6)

Another first viewing for me was of a Black Swallowtail butterfly. Unfortunately, it moved about so much that I was not able to get any good photos of it (mind you, I only took our tiny point and shoot pocket camera on the trip). Photos 7-9 show this butterfly, and you cannot really see the blue on the lower portion of its wings. This seems to be a rather faded individual.

Soon after I left the garden, Beverly found a tiny Spicebush Swallowtail butterfly caterpillar on the spicebush plant. Beverly said that “it was curled up on a leaf, that’s what they do for safety in between eating times.” Beverly has variety of potted plants throughout the garden as well, and she transferred the little guy to one of the small spicebush plants and brought it inside to protect the caterpillar from the keen eyes of birds. (Click on any photo for a larger view and captions.)

Beverly’s Magical Butterfly Garden in Florida: While vacationing at my family home in Florida, I visited a friend’s butterfly garden. It was like being in Fantasia with butterflies fluttering hither and yon. Every plant serves a purpose either as a food plant for the caterpillars, or for flowers for the adults to sup nectar from. Beverly and Jim also have two fountains with running water as the butterflies and birds enjoy it. (Click on any photo for a larger view.)

Home from Florida: I arrived home this afternoon, and am thoroughly enjoying the coolness of Maine. As I wandered through our flower gardens enjoying the changes I saw in species in bloom, I was sorry to see was that there are very few butterflies, only a bumblebee or two, and no honeybees to speak of on our property. This was a great contrast to my friend, Beverly, who has a lovely butterfly garden, in Florida, with monarchs and other species of butterflies galore!

Hotter ‘n Heck: The daytime highs are rising into the mid-80’s and we are not enjoying the heat. I am traveling to Florida tomorrow, and will be gone until July 10th. So, I guess this heat wave is prepping me for the even hotter temps. in Florida. Ugga Bugga… Drew and the pups will be staying home, but there won’t be any posts to MND until I return.

Silver-spotted Skipper butterfly: Some people, when seeing a skipper butterfly, may initially think that it is a moth due to its stocky body. But they are butterflies, through and through… Their caterpillars feed on legume plants like black locust trees (of which we have in abundance in our neck of the woods.) These butterflies are common in gardens, roadsides, and open areas. Our property has all three areas of butterfly habitats. This is the second most common butterfly in our yard, besides the Eastern tiger swallowtail. (Click on either photo for a larger view.)  (Source: The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Insects & Spiders.)

Grass Spider, (Agelenopsis spp.), I think: This grass spider was swiftly moving all over the Sweet William flowers as I photographed them, and then him. Grass spiders are funnel web weavers who hide in their funnel until an insect falls into it. Males are about 5/8” long, while females are around 3/4” long. There are over 400 species of this spider in North America. (Reference: The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Insects & Spiders) (Click on either photo for a larger view.)

By the way, I used a 100 mm lens (no extension tubes.)

Gazania: I am enamored of the Gazania that I planted around the border of the stump garden. The colors and patterns are so eye-catching, and they remind me of fancy flamenco dresses. (Click on any photo for a larger view.)

Tags: Gazania

Walk in the woods: Lady Flame has been chomping at the bit to get back into the woods, but first Drew had to string trim a good bit of the trail, up to and just past the creek, so that we didn’t have to walk through tick-covered grasses. We donned head nets, put bug dope on, and hit the trail. We took a short walk almost to the T and back.  We didn’t go far as I was getting too hot (as were the dogs) as the temperature rose to 77F. But, any walk in the woods is better than no walk at all… (Click on any photo for a larger view.)

P.S. I honestly don’t know how I am going to handle the heat of Florida when I am there next week. As I write this post, the temp. in Florida is 89F with a “feel-like temperature” of 103F. The temp. is supposed to rise to 94F later this afternoon. We might have to strap a jacket of ice packs around me;-)

Tags: Lady Drew Toby

A gardening gift from a generous student: I had a very generous student who surprised me with a gift certificate to a local florist. I used the money to buy some annuals for my stump gardens, which are lacking in the color department at the moment! I bought Gerber daisies, a couple of varieties of petunias, a brilliant verbena, and a flat of gazanias. I had such a fun afternoon while planting the flowers as gardening is one of my main sources of relaxation. Thank you so much, Russell…I truly appreciate your thoughtfulness. (Click on any photo for a larger view.)