It has been a hot, dry week. The garden is turning toward autumn.
Today was an interesting time for seeing a variety of butterflies in my garden. Checking twice for a few minutes each time yielded some firsts for me, novice that I am. Nothing I saw is rare or unexpected for this county at this time of year, but it was exciting nonetheless to see so many different things here in one day.
Pipevine Swallowtail (Battus philenor) First of year (saw one last year August 15, 2019)
Long-tailed Skipper (Urbanus proteus) First life sighting
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)
Silver-spotted Skipper (Epargyreus clarus)
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus) 3 yellow and 3 dark morphs (6 total).
Monarch (Danaus plexippus)
Pipevine Swallowtail (Battus philenor) (same individual as earlier judging by the missing tail)
American Snout (Libytheana carinenta) First life sighting
Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia) (spotted one earlier session but couldn’t get photo)
Cabbage White (Pieris rapae)
[Addendum: Later in the afternoon around 3:30 pm I saw a Black Swallowtail on zinnias in front yard, but had no camera handy.]
I spent most of the first session watching this beautiful creature with its gorgeous blue. It checked out verbena bonariensis briefly but once it found the lantana nearby it was content to stay put.
Just as the swallowtail drifted to the back side out of view, this amazing skipper landed beside me. The tail of the long-tailed skipper definitely stood out as did the blue coloration. I had about 5 seconds to enjoy it before it flew off.
While eating lunch I had seen a white butterfly flash by so I stepped back into the garden with the camera for session 2, but of course it was not in sight. I checked out the butterfly bush where six Eastern Tiger Swallowtails were hanging out.
A Silver-spotted Skipper landed out of nowhere. I have seen several this week. A quick photo shoot sent it off elsewhere, so I went back to the E. T. Swallowtails.
A Monarch landed on nearby Rudbeckia laciniata (Green-Headed Coneflower) and posed.
Moving to the southern border where the lantana is I spotted (probably the same) Pipevine Swallowtail again.
Across the garden I noticed action in the northern border. In the iris bed feeding on salvia is where I saw my first ever American Snout (Libytheana carinenta). I was not sure what it was but “snout” came to mind!
Taking one more glance around I spotted a Common Buckeye. I had seen one earlier but could not get a photo. Perhaps it was the same one, no way to know. Lovely and distinctive markings make it fun to see.
The white butterfly reappeared. It was a Cabbage White.
It has been too hot for me to want to garden but occasionally I step outside with the camera to survey the visitors.
Early this morning I spotted a skipper flying erratically among Verbena bonariensis flowers along the front drive.
In the main garden in the back yard a large bush of common lantana draws many insects, as does the nearby Blue Sky salvia, both growing in the southern border. In the western border along the back fence a butterfly bush offers enticement.
Unlike last week when they merely passed through, several eastern tiger swallowtails spent the day.
In addition to the swallowtail, this morning in quick succession I enjoyed seeing some favorites return. There was a male monarch in good condition bouncing back and forth between the lantana and salvia.
While photographing the monarch a Common Buckeye appeared, first one this year for me.
Can you spot where it fled to escape my persistent camera?
I left the common buckeye alone once the first Hummingbird Clearwing of the season suddenly came into view. It has an easily recognizable profile.
The Hummingbird Clearwing didn’t stay still but it stayed around long enough for me to take portraits.
Within just a few minutes I was cheered to see such interesting creatures. Hope the garden is feeding your soul this August.
Multiple heavy storms this week have my friends complaining, “Enough water!” but by some fluke of nature, promising dark clouds bypassed my neighborhood day after day, time and again. So this afternoon when a nice steady rain started up, I welcomed it readily.
One benefit of the need to be out watering yesterday morning was the enjoyment of seeing bees and hummingbirds sipping from the flowers. I also spotted a beautiful butterfly atop Echinacea purpurea, so came back out later with my camera. I welcome corrections because my identification skills are woefully undeveloped and potentially unreliable, but according to me, this one is Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia).
Common Buckeyes are found all over the United States, except in the Northwest. And supposedly here in the south where I live, they are well, rather true to their name, common; however, I do not see them commonly, so one picture was not enough.
When the butterfly is fresh its eye spots have a lavender tint.
Here the butterfly is sharing politely with a bee. There is a little sliver missing from its upper left wing.
Eventually the butterfly drifted toward the ground to light upon Phlox subulata (Moss Phlox).
Its ventral wing coloring is lighter in spring and summer, helping to camouflage itself. In fall and winter the color darkens to a rosier hue.
Another insect that caught my attention yesterday was the Fiery Skipper (Hylephila phyleus). It is also is found abundantly in this area of North Carolina. For the longest time I tried to discern shades of coloring and markings (chevrons, smudges, spots?) to identify if this is male or female. Still not sure, but I am guessing female.
The club-shaped ends of the antennae are black on the outside and orange on the inside.
I will close with a look at one flower I am especially enjoying this week. It is a striking shade of my favorite garden color—blue. The black calyces and stems add contrast and drama.