Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Milkweed Menagerie…

Last year, after being away from home for a little while, Greg and I returned home to find this growing in the pachysandra near our house.

I soon found out that it was a milkweed plant and what I learned about it made me glad that it decided to plant itself in our yard.  I won’t go into all the ins and outs of what makes this plant interesting, but what ultimately made me decide that I wouldn’t pull it out was that it is the life blood of the subspecies of butterfly called the Milkweed Butterfly, which includes the Monarch Butterfly.
 Somehow in the back of my mind, I knew that Monarch’s were having a hard time and I learned that, aside from climate change, a further reason for their struggle is that milkweed – so important to the Monarch’s success – is disappearing.  I figured since our yard is no showplace, it might look better with a few Monarchs hanging around.  So I left it.
Well, long story short here.  This is our second year of encouraging the milkweed to grow.  We have not had a Monarch yet.  But I am going to share with you the variety of creatures that are benefiting from our crop.
This is a Great Spangled Fritillary.  I think he’s rather magnificent.

And what I like best about him are his eyes.  They match his outfit.  The first thing that popped into my head when I saw that were lines from the song In the Merry Old Land of Oz.

We can make a dimple smile out of a frown
Can you even dye my eyes to match my gown? Uh-huh
Jolly old town.

We’ve also seen a lot of this little fellow this year.  He’s a Silver-spotted Skipper butterfly.  I think it looks like he’s sporting a fur cape.

Here’s an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail.  This guy is beautiful from the top and the bottom and from inside and out.

It hasn’t been just butterflies who like our milkweed.  Today I saw this Hummingbird Moth.

There have been many honey bees.  Yay!!

And dragonflies of all colors and sizes.

This dragonfly was on a nearby wildflower.  I wanted to post this picture because after I uploaded it, I noticed the little bumps all down its tail.

Are those eggs?

I don’t claim to be an Entomologist.  I just poke around on the Internet to find this stuff out.  If you see any mistakes here, please let me know.

But, here’s the bottom line.  If you see milkweed in your yard, I’d like to encourage you to leave it be.  You will see some pretty neat creatures this summer and it makes a really nice photographic subject in the fall as well.  Not only that, but the birds find it to be a nice sturdy perching stick.  Milkweed...a plant for all seasons.


Gail Dixon said...

I have never seen those tiny protrusions on a dragonfly before. Maybe it is eggs. All images are superb! I'd love to see a hummingbird moth one day.

TexWisGirl said...

we have milkweed growing naturally in our pastures. and i'm glad to have it, too. beautiful shots, barb.

Jennifer Perry said...

Magnificent and enchanting photographs!

MadSnapper said...

and after all this beauty i may have to find some to plant in our jungle.. i can't decide which is more beautiful, the butterflies it brings or the flower itself.

Debbie said...

oohhhhh i would have missed those eggs, so interesting!!

gorgeous butterflies!!!

Linda said...

Hi Barb!
I have a lot of milkweed at the cottage...
The hummingbirds love it...we also have the wee hummer moths! SO cute!
The cottage is on the migration track for the Monarch, and we see more in the Fall...
I did a post a few years back on the Milkweed...a very important plant indeed!
The flower head is spectacular...and then in the Fall, those beautiful soft seed heads escape from the hard shell!
Great photographs...glad you didn't pull it out!
Linda :o)

Pamela Gordon said...

I'm so glad to hear that you recognized the benefits of having milkweed in your garden. It is a beautiful plant and does draw a lot of wonderful creatures to it. You took some great photos of them! They are all so pretty. I love to see the milkweed pods bursting in the fall. Enjoy the day! Pam

Tanya Breese said...

oh my goodness, these photos are the bee in flight!

Brian King said...

These are gorgeous! I've never seen a Hummingbird Moth...or if I have I didn't know what it was.

Deanna said...

Oh you capture your flying friends beautifully. The clarity is stunning in all of them. I have seen several of the Hummingbird Moths this year, such an interesting species. Now I need to go out and find some milkweed!!

Tina Fariss Barbour said...

I did not know about milk weed, so thank you for sharing this. I don't know if there's any around here or not--I will have to do some exploring. Beautiful shots of the butterflies!

The Furry Gnome said...

Some cool bug shots you have there! We've got a few extra milkweed in the garden too this year. I even gathered some seed last fall and spread it over the snow out back this winter. I must go walk around and see what plants and bugs I can find.

Rose said...

I have always like milkweed plants, though I don't have any in the yard. Yours sure provided some great photographic opportunities!