2013 Recap & Photos

molanic(Zone 5 IL)January 15, 2014

Was just looking over my yard sightings and pictures for the past year and dreaming of summer. I had a pretty bad year for butterflies and moths. I didn't have as much time as usual to spend outside this year, but the numbers were still way down I think. I looked for eggs on several occasions, but did not find a single thing to raise.

Activity picked up a bit in mid-August. In mid-September I was excited to see my only new species for the year... a white-lined sphinx moth. There were four of them in the yard for at least a week and I though they were so cool. Then I saw in the newspaper that there was an explosion of them and they are normally pretty common anyways. It still gave me a thrill though!

My 2013 yard list and some pictures follow. I know it is pretty common fare for seasoned butterfly watchers. But I'm sure there are many northerners like me that enjoy some reminders of summer and our winged friends this time of year. Hopefully others will post their recaps and photos too even though this is a slow time of year on this forum.

Fiery Skipper
Peck's Skipper
Black Swallowtail
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail
Cabbage White
Clouded Sulphur
Gray Hairstreak
Red-spotted Purple
Question Mark
Mourning Cloak
Red Admiral
Painted Lady
American Painted Lady
Nessus Sphinx Moth
Hummingbird Clearwing Moth
White-lined Sphinx Moth

Question Mark

Red-spotted Purple

Black Swallowtail

Clouded Sulphur

Tiger Swallowtail

Happy accident picture that I thought was neat.

Another happy accident. I had missed half the butterfly, but thought just the colors of the wing with the background was so pretty that I cropped it some more and liked the result.

American Painted Lady

White-lined sphinx Moth
It is a video since it was too dark outside to get a picture with how fast it was moving. Hopefully it will play.
From 2013_09

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They're all so gorgeous but my favorite is the accidental monarch :) thanks for sharing.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2014 at 6:21PM
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So beautiful!

Thanks for the fix!

    Bookmark   January 17, 2014 at 11:32AM
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docmom_gw Zone 5 MI(5)

I am so excited about this coming summer. My butterfly garden is in it's third year, so my seed-started perennials should be coming into their own. I hope I have half as many varieties as you've seen. I'm not expecting many Monarchs, unfortunately. But, I planted two patches of parsley and have Rue and fennel for the black Swallowtails. I'd like to get a chance to raise quite a few cats, if possible.

Thanks for sharing the photos.


    Bookmark   January 17, 2014 at 8:26PM
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molanic(Zone 5 IL)

Even though my list shows a decent variety I only saw one or two of many of them all season. The only thing that was around in good numbers all season is of course the cabbage white!

The past few years I had been seeing at least a few "new to me" species each year. Also, there were quite a few days that were just great butterfly days with several monarchs and tiger swallowtails at a time. It was getting a little better every year. I had hoped it was due to me adding more native nectar and host plants every year. 2013 was a bit of a let-down though and made me think the past couple of years were just flukes.

You'll notice from the pictures too that most of them are on butterfly bush. While I am trying to gradually switch over to mostly natives, they still prefer the butterfly bushes to most everything else. They are like butterfly crack I think :) I do try to keep them dead-headed though. I thought they would not re-seed here and weren't a problem until I found my first seedling last year! I had been dead-heading all along to increase flowering, but now I will be more diligent about it.

I hope numbers will go up this year and everyone will get lots of beauties!

    Bookmark   January 18, 2014 at 1:45PM
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Great shots :) My fave is the White Lined Sphinx moth.
We're in a deep freeze and I'm just missing my Leps and daydreaming of the season to come.
My Butterfly Garden will be in its fourth season and I'm praying for a better season than the last two :/
My first year was my best, before the drought...

    Bookmark   January 19, 2014 at 3:23PM
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docmom_gw Zone 5 MI(5)

I had established a butterfly garden at my previous address, and the numbers of insects I had increased noticeably each year. There are lots of reasons for wide fluctuations in the numbers of various wildlife creatures from year to year. I just tell myself that if I continue to increase the area and diversity of plants available, then I will be rewarded with increased visitors. Unfortunately, I don't have much time to spend in the garden watching for visitors. So, I just cross my fingers and keep plugging away. Encouraging others to start to include occasional natives in their gardens is another excellent way to spread the wealth. I'm wintersowing lots of extras this year and I plan to give them away to coworkers and neighbors. I might do a bit of guerrilla gardening, which means to plant natives on unused pieces of land, to increase the usefulness for wildlife. But, that takes more time and planning.

Keep up the fight. We're slowly turning the tide of public attitude. Gentle, constant pressure will eventually wear down the toughest resistance.


    Bookmark   January 20, 2014 at 7:18AM
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Beautiful photos. Thx for sharing them. I too browse through the shots I took in summer just to stay sane through this bitter winter.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2014 at 11:38AM
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nice job on the sphinx moth video. I tried to get one over the summer and it turned out to be difficult because they never sit down for over 6 seconds.

Best butterfly of the year, Red Rim

Here is a link that might be useful: http://greennature.com/article1967.html

    Bookmark   January 24, 2014 at 5:44PM
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Nice pics! Thank you!

I have been resisting the butterfly bushes. I may give in this year and buy a few of them.

Last summer was a good year for black swallowtails. I have about thirty chrys' overwintering. I use dill and parsely for the cats.

This year I plan to try carrots. I am hoping that carrots will grow all summer - the dill dies off mid summer and barely makes a comeback for the second round of egg laying. Anyone else use carrots for black swallowtails?

Tithonia was a hit - first year I was able to grow it. I'll be trying it again this year. Zinnias of course are always popular.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2014 at 5:13AM
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molanic(Zone 5 IL)

Since adding all these plants the insect population has definitely gone up. All the other insects really appreciate all the new plants. The joe pye weed and goldenrod are swarming with insects at times, but the butterflies and moths definitely prefer the butterfly bushes to all else it seems. I love seeing all the different types of bees and wasps I am getting now too.

I'm hoping to get some better video this year since I just got a new camera with more zoom that also does hd video and high speed video. I can't wait to try the high speed on hummingbirds and the fast moving hummingbird / spinx moths. With it being so freaking cold all I have been taking so far is cat pictures and a few birds through the window which will never look very good!

I have not grown carrot specifically for black swallowtails but I did find a cat on them when I grew them one year. I have the native golden alexanders for them, but have only found eggs on parsley and dill so far. One year they laid eggs on my tiny 1" tall wintersown parsley seedlings. Luckily I also had an existing large parsley plant to move them to.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2014 at 11:00AM
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docmom_gw Zone 5 MI(5)

We finally have some above-freezing temps this week. So, I'm hoping we'll actually be able to walk on the sidewalks again. I'm so cabin-feverish I could scream. So, nice to be able to come here and remember summer. Even my wintersown jugs have been a distant memory since they became buried in snow many weeks ago. Praying for lots of sprouts. I do have annual salvia sprouting under lights. I planted them for the hummingbirds from seed that had been sitting around for several years, but got great germination. Maybe they will help me attract more insects.

Thanks for posting this for us to visit, Molanic.


    Bookmark   March 11, 2014 at 11:10AM
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I'm with you Martha on this Cabin Fever nonsense.
We're just starting to melt and I can see patches of grass :)
Soon I'll be able to cut back my dead plant material and look for signs of life. I saw some Antennaria yesterday, with just a leaf or two, and buds in the center. Yay! It was >50 degrees :-)
Can Anaphalis and the American Lady be far behind?
We're due a brief cooldown, then another warming trend, with MORE MELTING SNOW!! Whoohoo!!

    Bookmark   March 11, 2014 at 2:57PM
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molanic(Zone 5 IL)

We were starting to thaw out too finally with a couple of days in the 40s and even 50s. There was even bare ground showing where the snow wasn't too deep. Then last night we got another 4-5" of nice heavy wet snow. It is pretty at least since it stuck to everything. I prefer the snow to rain at this point to give the ground more time to soak it up as it melts. Overall it is finally warming though and we are supposed to hit 50 again on Friday! I'll have to get cracking on wintersowing my spring seeds soon. Before you know it we will be posting about our first mourning cloaks and red admirals.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2014 at 11:00AM
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