Tag Archives: Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus)

Butterfly Journal For 9/17/2021 – 9/24/2021

September 20, 2021 Sleepy Orange (Abaeis nicippe)

Since my last report I recorded 11 observations of 6 species, bringing the 2021 annual butterfly total in my garden to 505 (and approximately 29 total species).  The garden at last received a nice rainfall Tuesday and Wednesday. Flowers have perked up and I hope more butterflies will venture this way.

Butterfly Sightings 9/17/2021 –  9/24/2021

09/17/2021 Red-banded Hairstreak – Calycopis cecrops 1
09/17/2021 White M Hairstreak – Parrhasius m-album 1
09/17/2021 Ocola Skipper – Panoquina ocola 1
09/18/2021 Ocola Skipper – Panoquina ocola 1
09/18/2021 Cloudless Sulphur – Phoebis sennae 1
09/18/2021 Red-banded Hairstreak – Calycopis cecrops 1
09/20/2021 Sleepy Orange – Abaeis nicippe 1
09/20/2021 Monarch – Danaus plexippus 1
09/23/2021 Red-banded Hairstreak – Calycopis cecrops 1
09/24/2021 Cloudless Sulphur – Phoebis sennae 1
09/24/2021 Ocola Skipper – Panoquina ocola 1

Last report listed 21 observations so this week’s tally is down. Had I counted “little orange skippers” I could have matched that total, but they have been skittish and I could not get photos.  Most looked like Fiery Skippers but I do not trust my instincts enough to name them without pictures to back up the identification.  I did find a few Ocola Skippers; they are easier to know.

September 17, 2021 Ocola Skipper (Panoquina ocola)

There were a few more Hairstreak sightings, one White M  and several Red-banded. There is just a hint of the blue dorsal view but I couldn’t get a photo of one with open wings.

September 17, 2021 M Hairstreak (Parrhasius m-album) on Dahlia ‘Petra’s Wedding’

September 23, 2021 Red-banded Hairstreak (Calycopis cecrops) On Rudbeckia fulgida (Orange Coneflower)

September 17, 2021 Red-banded Hairstreak (Calycopis cecrops)

During this period I saw my first Cloudless Sulphur of the year (September 18) with another sighting today (September 24).

September 18, 2021 Cloudless Sulphur (Phoebis sennae)

September 18, 2021 Cloudless Sulphur (Phoebis sennae)

This butterfly seems willing to nectar on a variety of plants—I saw the one today alight on gardenia, several salvias, cleome, perennial sweet pea and dahlias. The salvias may have held the most allure. Both days I managed the best photographs on the salvias.

September 24, 2021 Cloudless Sulphur (Phoebis sennae)

Thought this next image is cropped and not well-focused, today I managed to catch an open-wing view of the Cloudless Sulphur.

September 24, 2021 Cloudless Sulphur (Phoebis sennae)

I chased a Sleepy Orange around for quite a while the other day, eventually getting a close-up look.

September 20, 2021 Sleepy Orange (Abaeis nicippe)

It settled briefly at lots of plants including this weedy one I have been trying to eliminate from the garden. I cannot remember its name at the moment but it spreads by runners and has travelled far and wide. At least it is providing some nutrients to the Sleepy Orange.

September 20, 2021 Sleepy Orange (Abaeis nicippe)

It was interesting to see the open-wing view of this butterfly.

September 20, 2021 Sleepy Orange (Abaeis nicippe). Open-wing, dorsal view.

Monarchs are endearing and always a welcome sight. This one’s wing has a slight fold or wrinkle that I worried about. Common lantana is a favorite nectar source.

September 20, 2021 Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus)

September 20, 2021 Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus)

Happy Butterflying or enjoying nature in any way you can.

Butterfly Journal For 7/23/2021- 7/30/2021

July 25, 2021 Fiery Skipper (Hylephila phyleus)

I recorded an amazing 112 butterflies during this reporting period. The annual total is 298.

Butterfly Sightings 7/23/2021- 7/30/2021

07/23/2021 Silver-spotted Skipper – Epargyreus clarus 1
07/23/2021 Horace’s Duskywing – E. horatius 2
07/23/2021 Eastern Tiger Swallowtail – Papilio glaucus 1
07/23/2021 American Lady – Vanessa virginiensis 1
07/24/2021 Fiery Skipper – Hylephila phyleus 23
07/24/2021 Ocola Skipper – Panoquina ocola 7
07/24/2021 Common Buckeye – Junonia coenia 2
07/24/2021 Horace’s Duskywing – E. horatius 2
07/24/2021 Gray Hairstreak – Strymon melinus 1
07/24/2021 Eastern Tiger Swallowtail – Papilio glaucus 1
07/24/2021 Silver-spotted Skipper – Epargyreus clarus 1
07/25/2021 Fiery Skipper – Hylephila phyleus 6
07/25/2021 Ocola Skipper – Panoquina ocola 3
07/25/2021 American Lady – Vanessa virginiensis 1
07/25/2021 Silver-spotted Skipper – Epargyreus clarus 1
07/26/2021 Horace’s Duskywing – E. horatius 4
07/26/2021 American Lady – Vanessa virginiensis 1
07/26/2021 Pipevine Swallowtail – Battus philenor 1
07/26/2021 Fiery Skipper – Hylephila phyleus 6
07/26/2021 Hoary Edge – Achalarus lyciades 1
07/26/2021 Common Buckeye – Junonia coenia 2
07/26/2021 Eastern Tiger Swallowtail – Papilio glaucus 1
07/27/2021 Horace’s Duskywing – E. horatius 3
07/27/2021 Eastern Tiger Swallowtail – Papilio glaucus 1
07/28/2021 American Lady – Vanessa virginiensis 1
07/28/2021 Common Buckeye – Junonia coenia 3
07/28/2021 Horace’s Duskywing – E. horatius 1
07/29/2021 Silver-spotted Skipper – Epargyreus clarus 1
07/29/2021 Eastern Tiger Swallowtail – Papilio glaucus 1
07/29/2021 Common Buckeye – Junonia coenia 2
07/29/2021 Fiery Skipper – Hylephila phyleus 8
07/29/2021 Horace’s Duskywing – E. horatius 1
07/29/2021 Monarch – Danaus plexippus 1
07/29/2021 Ocola Skipper – Panoquina ocola 2
07/30/2021 Monarch – Danaus plexippus 1
07/30/2021 American Lady – Vanessa virginiensis 1
07/30/2021 Silver-spotted Skipper – Epargyreus clarus 1
07/30/2021 Fiery Skipper – Hylephila phyleus 10
07/30/2021 Ocola Skipper – Panoquina ocola 4
07/30/2021 Common Buckeye – Junonia coenia 1

Within this new period 53 were Fiery Skippers and 14 were Ocola Skippers. These small creatures abound around the Common Lantana, Verbena bonariensis, Butterfly Bush; they also vie with bees and other insects at the Rudbeckia laciniata (Green-Headed Coneflower).

July 24, 2021 Ocola Skipper (Panoquina ocola)

The small skippers are difficult for me to identify with any certainty, but I am making an attempt. In my last report I had decided to just omit these species because of my uncertainty and the time it takes first to make a reasonable guess and second to verify the guess. But after asking for advice on the listserv where I have been reporting my butterfly sightings this year, I was encouraged to do report all species.

Harry LeGrand in Raleigh who is in charge of the collection data and statistics that end up online at Butterflies of North Carolina: their Distribution and Abundance offered a rule of thumb. “If any orange or yellow on them, 90% likely are Fiery, and the rest as Sachems.  That should be the Chatham County ratio. The dark ones likely Ocola and Clouded, with a few others like Dun possible. ”  Of the grass skippers I uploaded to verify this period, all were identified as Fiery or Ocola.

I saw the praying mantis in this photograph only when reviewing the images. Was the male Fiery paying attention?

July 26, 2021 Fiery Skipper (Hylephila phyleus)

In other news I can report a discovery and a correction: On 07/26/2021 I learned what I had been chasing as a Silver-spotted Skipper was a new-to-me Hoary Edge (Achalarus lyciades).  After reflection I realized I had earlier on 07/13/2021 made the same mistake and had misidentified it in my last butterfly journal. It’s been corrected now.  I was told Hoary Edge is often difficult to get in a garden. They are seen in Piedmont region of North Carolina where I live but are more easily found in the Sandhills.

July 26, 2021  Hoary Edge (Achalarus lyciades)

For comparison here is the Silver-spotted Skipper.  I see these often.

July 24, 2021 Silver-spotted Skipper (Epargyreus clarus)

Nearly every day I observe 1 or 2 Horace’s Duskywings. Yesterday there were a record 4.

July 28, 2021  Horace’s Duskywing (Erynnis horatius)

More American Lady and Common Buckeye butterflies are visiting the garden than ever before and are recently observed enjoying cosmos flowers. I have not grown cosmos in many years but the orange and yellow flowers provide a well-coordinated color palette for photographs.

July 28, 2021 American Lady (Vanessa virginiensis)

July 28, 2021 American Lady (Vanessa virginiensis)

July 28, 2021 Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia) on Cosmos

There have been a few Eastern Tiger Swallowtails, some pristine, some sadly worn and plucked.

July 29, 2021 Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)

I was ecstatic to see another Pipevine Swallowtail (last seen 6/14/2021). It was an unexpected treat.

July 26, 2021 Pipevine Swallowtail (Battus philenor)

July 26, 2021 Pipevine Swallowtail (Battus philenor)

July 26, 2021 Pipevine Swallowtail (Battus philenor)

And more!  Yesterday and today Monarchs stopped by.  Some of you have reported seeing these already. One had popped by here in early April when it was still unusually chilly. Hope we all see many more this summer.

July 29, 2021 Monarch (Danaus plexippus)

This has been a rewarding summer of butterflies.

Friday Reflections

Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine)

The weather has been ideal for gardening this week and I have put in a few hours each day and nearly all day on Thursday.  There are so many tasks that need attention that no matter which one I set out to do, I am finding it hard not to become distracted and end up working on something else.

I have been planting seeds, bulbs, perennials and dahlias.  I must have really craved color and flowers this winter, but it is hard to know where I imagined I could plant everything I ordered.

As part of my “Friday reflections” I wrote and then deleted paragraphs about weeds, bermuda grass infestations, yellow jacket nests. Sharing the positive highlights of the garden is more exciting.

Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine)

Dianthus Ideal Select Mix

This week I have seen butterflies: monarch, black swallowtail, and a pearl crescent (every day). None was interested in posing for me or even getting close so the image quality is poor, but I want to post them here as a record.

Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus)

Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes)

Pearl Crescent (Phyciodes tharos)

I was pleased to see a Bumble Bee checking out the ‘Pride of Gibraltar’ Hummingbird Cerinthe.

Bumble Bee and ‘Pride of Gibraltar’ Hummingbird Cerinthe

Bumble Bee and ‘Pride of Gibraltar’ Hummingbird Cerinthe

A green anole sunned on the back garage steps and scurried just for a moment each time I passed, before settling back into its sunny spot.

Green Anole (Anolis carolinensis)

More irises opened and others are close. This is one my garden blogger friend from Petals and Wings (now mostly on instagram) sent me last fall. I’m not sure if they will bloom this year but they are growing and look healthy. The variegated foliage caught my attention and the flower is purple/blue.

Iris (passalong)

Iris (passalong)

Many of my Iris tectorum have disappeared in the past couple years, so I am especially happy to welcome this one back.

Iris tectorum (Japanese Roof Iris)

Another iris of note, this one is one of the only ones I have actually purchased.

Iris germanica ‘Raspberry Blush’

Iris germanica ‘Raspberry Blush’

Iris germanica ‘Raspberry Blush’

Hope you are having a wonderful week in and out of the garden.

An August Sunday Album

My grandmother’s mossy front yard held a magical surprise and each summer I was delighted by the appearance of her spider lilies. Finally in 2015 I added some to my own garden and today was the magical day they burst forth into bloom.

Lycoris radiata (Spider Lily)

Lycoris radiata (Spider Lily)

Lycoris radiata (Spider Lily)

Usually there are plentiful zinnias to use indoors butI have left them outside for now, the few zinnias from a second sowing. Finally they are in bloom, six or seven weeks later than normal due to the rabbit “crisis”.

Zinnia

Zinnia

Zinnia

Zinnia

Nearby, asclepias has rebloomed.

Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly Plant)

There are other small pleasures.

Rudbeckia laciniata (Green-Headed Coneflower)

Verbena bonariensis (Tall Verbena)

Verbena bonariensis (Tall Verbena)

Dahlia ‘Cafe Au Lait’

Unknown dahlia

Phlox paniculata ‘Robert Poore’ (Garden phlox)

Lathyrus latifolius (Everlasting sweet pea)

Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower)

Salvia uliginosa ‘Blue Sky’ (Bog sage)

Lantana will continue well into October. On any given day it is a popular gathering place for butterflies and skippers. Today there were six Eastern Tiger Swallowtails, yesterday swallowtails and a couple of monarchs.

Lantana camara (Common lantana)

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)

Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus)

The oakleaf hydrangea leaves point toward autumn, as do changes in light and pulsating sounds of cicadas, but mostly there is just a knowing deep inside, an inner sense that fall is near.  Every time I stepped outside this past week I felt it.

Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Ruby Slippers’ (Lil’ Ruby dwarf Oakleaf Hydrangea)

Garden Observations

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)

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.

Ocola Skipper (Panoquina ocola)

Ocola Skipper (Panoquina ocola)

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.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)

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.

Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus)

Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus)

Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus)

Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus)

While photographing the monarch a Common Buckeye appeared, first one this year for me.

Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia)

Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia)

Can you spot where it fled to escape my persistent camera?

Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia)

I left the common buckeye alone once the first Hummingbird Clearwing of the season suddenly came into view. It has an easily recognizable profile.

Hummingbird Clearwing (Hemaris thysbe)

Hummingbird Clearwing (Hemaris thysbe)

The Hummingbird Clearwing didn’t stay still but it stayed around long enough for me to take portraits.

Hummingbird Clearwing (Hemaris thysbe)

Hummingbird Clearwing (Hemaris thysbe)

Within just a few minutes I was cheered to see such interesting creatures. Hope the garden is feeding your soul this August.

 

Monarch Sighting

 

Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus)

This was my first local Monarch sighting this summer, not in my garden, rather at a nearby community shopping area.  This gorgeous Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) was spotted mid-day today dining from a streetside planter, Southern Village, Chapel Hill, NC.

I am not sure what this little pink flower is that has caught the butterfly’s undivided attention. [Thanks to Kris for identifying this flower as Gomphrena globosa ‘Fireworks’.] In the background is a mix of various colors of Angelonia and Tradescantia pallida ‘Purpurea’ (Purple Heart).

Watch the video to see the lovely wingspread. [Thanks to Eliza for noting insect is a male: black spots on hind wings and thinner webbing.]

Surprises Along The Southern Side Path

Clematis 'Jackmanii'

Clematis ‘Jackmanii’

I have not shown the garden along the southern side of the house in a long time. The Southern Side Path is a narrow border with a winding stone walkway, that provides access from the driveway down to the main garden in the back yard. If you walk down the path, turn around and look back up toward the street, this is the view you will see.

Clematis 'Jackmanii' In Southern Side Garden

Clematis ‘Jackmanii’ In Southern Side Garden

(Be careful not to turn your head to the right or you’ll see the neighbors’ house looming large.)

Standing in the distance near the street and not really part of the border, a Betula nigra (River Birch) is visible. This tree began losing lots of its leaves several weeks ago, but after some heavy rains came it decided to hold on to the rest of its foliage a while longer.

In the foreground, Clematis ‘Jackmanii’ usually has a few flowers this time of year, but the weather has been especially encouraging to it this autumn. Behind and underneath the clematis is Muhlenbergia capillaris (Pink Muhly Grass). In front (not visible) are planted Iris tectorum (Japanese Roof Iris).

Clematis 'Jackmanii'

Clematis ‘Jackmanii’

In between the clematis and the river birch are a host of odds and ends. A few are:

Artemisia ‘Powis Castle’ (Wormwood)
Lavender
Iris germanica (Bearded iris)
Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’
Monarda didyma (Scarlet Beebalm)
Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly Plant)
Lychnis coronaria (Rose Campion)
Stachys byzantina (Lamb’s Ear)
Verbena bonariensis (Tall Verbena)
Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower)
Rudbeckia hirta ‘Irish Eyes’

Amazingly, these and other plants that grow here are all ignored by the deer which make their way between the two houses quite often.

Sitting along the path just in front of the dark green Wintergreen boxwood shrub, (Buxus microphylla var koreana ‘Wintergreen’), is the current star of the Southern Side Garden. It is the fragrant Hedychium coronarium (Ginger lily) .

Hedychium coronarium (Ginger lily)

Hedychium coronarium (Ginger lily)

Last winter was exceedingly cold so when spring arrived I was concerned whether the Ginger lily had even survived. Fortunately by mid-May a few stalks had emerged. Through summer it never grew as full nor tall as it had during the previous two years, but finally today a flower opened.

I had been eagerly watching this tender perennial for quite a few weeks, hoping it would bloom before a frost could wilt it back to the ground. I was curious when it bloomed last year. In checking my photo records I noticed the set of dates when I took pictures of the flowering ginger lily. An unscientific but interesting observation is that for the previous two years the ginger lily had flowered much earlier than usual and for an extended period of time.

Dates Of Photographing Hedychium coronarium (Ginger lily) Blooms In My Garden
October 18, 2008
September 24, 2009 – October 25, 2009
2010 – ?
October 13, 2011
September 2 – November 2, 2012
August 10 – November 7, 2013
October 17, 2014

Leaving the Southern Side Path, turn around and come inside the main garden. Here yesterday, I again attempted to capture the elusive monarchs. This time a couple of the butterflies were nectaring on the Zinnias, which made it easier for me to get close and get a picture from the back with the wings open.

Monarch Nectaring On Zinnia

Monarch Nectaring On Zinnia

I particularly liked this image which not only captured the eyes clearly, but recorded pink reflections cast from the flower onto the underside of the wing and thorax of the butterfly.

Pink Reflections On Monarch Wings

Pink Reflections On Monarch Wings

Patterns In Orange And Black

Lantana and Monarch (detail)

Lantana and Monarch (detail)

A handful of monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) arrived to the garden a week ago. Most often I have observed them dancing between the swamp sunflower and butterfly bush where it is difficult for me to get close.

This afternoon I set out to photograph three monarchs as they fed on Lantana camara (Common lantana) in the southern border.

Lantana and Monarch

They stayed put until I tried to move in, then each flew up high, away and settled again a few feet further, often on the opposite side of the fence where the lantana peeks through. When I switched to video the one in my viewfinder sat perfectly still until it sensed I had turned off the camera. I had to laugh.

I chose a few of the photographs and cropped them to reveal some of the detail.

Lantana and Monarch – 1

Lantana and Monarch – 1 detail

Lantana and Monarch – 2

Lantana and Monarch – 2 detail

Lantana and Monarch -3

Lantana and Monarch – 3 detail

Autumn Passage

Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus)

Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus)

Yesterday evening during dinner on the porch I glimpsed what I thought could be a Monarch, so this morning I headed out to investigate. In the northwest corner of the garden this solitary butterfly was enjoying nectar from the few remaining Zinnias.

Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus)

Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus)

Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus)

Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus)

Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) and Zinnias

Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) and Zinnias