Mourning Cloaks

docmom_gw Zone 5 MI(5)June 8, 2014

I've seen Mourning Cloaks hanging around the beginning of the path into our back woods for the past two days. We have a compost pile on the side of the path, so when I've gone out to dump, there have been one or two that I startled up from the ground or were chasing each other. I think they are one of the most beautiful butterflies.

I also have Eastern Yellow Tiger Swallowtails fluttering around high up in the trees nearly constantly, and a hummingbird was visiting my salvia today. My garden is coming together and the critters are finding it. I planted a wild black cherry sapling that my brother dug up for me from my mom's property. I hope it survives. Hope everyone else is having a great season.


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Glad you're having a good season, Martha :-)
I saw another Monarch yesterday while walking the dog.
Saturday at the farmers' market I bought a Dill plant with 3 BST cats on it. I also collected 4 more eggs off my Fennel.
My garden has come to life with caterpillars in the last couple weeks, namely ALs and RAs. I have at least 100 or so AL cats, so my Antennaria and Anaphalis look ragged. I have 5 5th instar Monarch cats and 3 BSTs that crawled off to make chrysalids. I have weekly to twice weekly visits by AL ELFs.
This week I bought more nectar plants at the Farmers' Market, mostly annuals. Everything in my garden is in bud, and should coincide with eclosure. I even bought some Heliotrope for the guys. (Heliotrope and some other plants attract male butterflies.)
Looking forward to an exciting Butterfly season :-)


    Bookmark   June 9, 2014 at 4:02AM
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gyr_falcon(Sunset 23 USDA 9)

Sounds as if the wildlife is really beginning to enjoy your garden, Martha. Bet they will continue to visit in subsequent years as the word gets around. ;) Your mention of the puddling butterflies reminded me that making an area for that in my garden is on the to-do list this year; I should get moving on that...

It has been a nice spring here, though with a few too-hot 95-100+F weeks. Although my area entertains wildlife on a year-round basis more than colder climates, there are still some critters that stick to seasons.

I was very pleased when the western bluebirds fledged recently. I put up a birdhouse to try to lure the woodpecker to use it as a night roost, as they did at our previous house. But bluebirds began trying to nest in it! That may sound strange, but I was not expecting bluebirds. I live in a residential area, (SoCal, packed 'em in homes, small yard style) with little of what I would have thought was proper bluebird habitat for some distance. The first year they were unsuccessful--starlings or house sparrows got the eggs. But this year they succeeded and are now building another nest for a second round.

My two first giant swallowtails finally enclosed. I'd planted several Choysia for other reasons, and even though I'd seen one giant swallowtail flying around the garden last year, didn't realize that she might lay eggs on those plants. I didn't even notice the two cats until they were quite large. I lucked upon a few more Choysia plants on clearance at a nursery and nabbed them--they are almost extinct at the retail level since the AG Dept is freaking out about them in regards to Asian citrus psyllid and citrus greening and closely scrutinizing them (and rightly so) at nurseries.

We always have hummingbirds here, but it has been especially interesting watching two Allens this spring. They seem to be evenly matched--so instead of chasing each other off, they often end up at a stalemate with the two birds perched within a few feet of each other glaring angrily. Finally, one or the other will move away a dozen feet or so and just ignore the other for a while. They have been doing this for about 6-7 weeks now. I have never witnessed this type of behavior before--usually the most aggressive bird just chases all other males well out of the yard.

There is never a dull moment in the garden! :)

    Bookmark   June 9, 2014 at 4:40AM
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docmom_gw Zone 5 MI(5)

I'm jealous of your Monarchs and other eggs and cats. I have yet to find anything to raise, though I really don't know where I'd find the time, anyway. I planted Pussytoes this spring, so I have baby seedlings. Hopefully the ELFs won't find them until next year.

How are your Button Bushes doing? I have 4-5 more yearlings in tiny pots that are growing like gangbusters, but I don't have anywhere to plant them. I really might have to cut down some trees. Or maybe I'll give them to my brother for his property. I've also got Swamp milkweed seedlings and Whorled milkweed seedlings that I don't have space for. My wintersowing was very successful. I'm thinking of potting things up and saving them for next spring's plant exchanges or sales. But, then I'd have little pots to nurture all summer. Anyone still want seedlings?


    Bookmark   June 9, 2014 at 7:14AM
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My Buttonbushes are doing really well, along with the 18 Swamp Milkweed seedlings you mailed me. As a matter of fact, I just potted up one of the Buttonbushes into a 1 gal pot and placed out of reach of critters. I'll plant all four in the ground c some sort of protection late in the Fall. Are you looking to trade anything for some Whorled Milkweed? I'd be very interested in some...


    Bookmark   June 9, 2014 at 9:54AM
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docmom_gw Zone 5 MI(5)

You may have as much Whorled Milkweed as I can transport to you. I planted it on the recommendation of someone here on Gardenweb or possibly Monarch Watch. However, I was doing more reading about it, and it spreads via rhizomes just like Common Milkweed. I really can't accommodate anything quite so vigorous in my yard. I can take some to my brother. He has a large property, including some old cornfield he's trying to reclaim for natural habitat. But, I've got three or four milk jugs with multiple seedlings sprouted in each.

Shall I attempt the same shipping method as before with the Swamp Milkweed? That cost about $17. If it's successful and you'll really plant them, I don't mind the expense. I consider it my contribution to creating improved habitat and maintaining the diversity of native plants. Just make sure to save seeds some day and pass it forward. You probably need to remind me of your address again.


    Bookmark   June 9, 2014 at 7:24PM
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Asclepias verticellata is probably the most elegant milkweed around in my opinion...And rabbits don't bother it.
I would love some more
Thank you, Martha, and I'll post my address via e-mail.


    Bookmark   June 10, 2014 at 9:35AM
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