What a Bust This Year Has Been

organic_kitten(8)July 21, 2011

The year started out with many butterflies. Then we had the terrible storms and the tornadoes to hit here. I have just seen a few butterflies since then. I have birds out the gizoo, but a few skippers, a rare swallowtail, (I had so many at the start of the year) and some of the tiny ones. Some sulfurs and buckeyes, but not many.

I haven't seen a monarch, and only one gulf frit.

Maybe migration will let me see some.


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catherinet(5 IN)

Same here in central Indiana, only we never had any to begin with this year. I don't know if it was terribly wet spring or what, but I've only seen a couple of butterflies this year. Its strangely devoid of them. :(

    Bookmark   July 22, 2011 at 6:20AM
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i am not seeing as many here too-the tornados skipped my county but we did have alot of rain. so sad. butterflies are one of my fave things of the season.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2011 at 10:07AM
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Same here in Cen Va until a few days ago.

On the 18th there were 2 Pipevine Swallowtails on our Mimosa tree. Yesterday there was a Tiger Swallowtail, 3 Great Spangled Frits and lots of Silver Spotted Skippers on our Butterfly Bush.

Things are looking up! :)


    Bookmark   July 22, 2011 at 11:34AM
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We've had similar experiences here and around SE Texas. In my neck of the woods spring, and even late winter, was awesome with tons of butterflies and most of the species. This summer has been a far different story with butterflies rarely appearing. A couple years back I had so many buckeyes all year long it was unbelievable, but today I saw one buckeye.

I know the buckeye numbers are dependent in a large way to the amount of purple gerardia, Agalinis purpurea, and I'm still learning how to manage my meadow areas for thickets of purple gerardia.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2011 at 10:48PM
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terryr(z5a IL)

We had record breaking low temps in the spring plus a late frost, followed by record high temps also in the spring. We seemed to be cold, then hot, back to cold, then hot. Rain seemed to skip over us for the most part and is still skipping over us. We're so dry, my native plants are wilting. You know it's dry when the native flora is wilting! Plants that are supposed to be blooming, are still tightly budded. Right now, we're having such hot temps, heat indices in the 100's, sun shinning so bright, how do you water? I've seen Black Swallowtails, Tiger Swallowtails, Monarchs, Buckeyes...Sulphurs, Cabbage Whites and what I think are Eastern Tailed Blues and some Gray Hairstreaks...and who knows what all else I cannot ID. With nothing blooming because it's so dry, I have nothing to offer them. boo

    Bookmark   July 23, 2011 at 11:16PM
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bandjzmom(7 NWGeorgia)

Well, I have the nectar sources and the host plants, but I am not seeing the butterflies either. I am holding out hope that they will flood in during my busy butterfly months!~~Angie

    Bookmark   July 24, 2011 at 11:34AM
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I'm sorry! It's been a pretty busy year for me. I've raised lots of Black Swallowtails this year. I didn't keep track, but must be over 60 or so. Last year I only had a few. I've had 6 Spicebush Swallowtails so far this year. And I've had 2 Tobacco hornworms I found as babies that actually made it to pupation!! I'm so excited about that as I've only ever had 1 other one hatch into a moth (the rest were always parasitized.) So I'd say for me this year is much better than last year.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2011 at 11:56AM
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It is good to hear that PA is seeing some good butterfly traffic. I have always believed that things work in cycles, however, I don't understand exactly how they work, but it is very interesting to me. At work today, sadly, no butterflies. Where my work is focused this entire year has been a bust as well.

Someday, after the beginning of 2012, I'd like to visit the Northeast or even Mideast. I've read so many wonderful historical and ecological things

    Bookmark   July 24, 2011 at 3:33PM
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Its been a slow summer for butterflies so far, here in Madison, Wisconsin, as well. I have seen several black swallowtail, and one red admiral, along with a few monarchs. In the past week, monarchs have visited our yard several times, so the situation seems to be improving. I found 8 monarch eggs this morning.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2011 at 4:56PM
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Spring was good for butterflies, but summer is bad. Day after day, no butterflies...unusual here. But today was a rare good day...I saw one...may have been a Texas Crescent, looked ragged, with some wing missing. I did release a GF a while back...but it left after a couple days. State-wide extreme drought and the wildfires taking its toll, I guess. San Antonio is now up to 6.5 inches for the year after a recent rain event there, but we haven't had as much as that. I'm doing what I can for the wildlife...water and what food I can put out. Totally sad here and we need rain bad...the heat makes it worse, of course.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2011 at 8:00PM
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KC Clark - Zone 2012-6a OH

I'd say my year has been better than most but nothing compared to last year's bonanza. My daughter found 3 tiny BST cats today on my potted parsley so a BST finally left me something. Now I need just one RSP egg or cat in order to meet or exceed all my normal butterfly quotas.


    Bookmark   July 25, 2011 at 8:23PM
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Tony G(5a)

I agree with KC about last year being a BONANZA. And it was my first year of dedicating the entire garden to butterflies so I was spoiled rotten. :/

I am finally seeing more flappers though. Seen a couple red admirals, a hummingbird moth, and yesterday a black swallowtail was in both of my fennel patches. I am going to check thoroughly for eggs tomorrow.

As for the monarchs, this year has been AWESOME. There are hundreds of eggs and cats in our yard right now. There has been a constant barrage of egg laying for the last month.

As much as I would love to save them all, my self imposed limit is 25. Too bad minrose doesn't live closer ;)


    Bookmark   July 25, 2011 at 10:35PM
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A Spicebush Swallowtail and a Tiger Swallowtail have been hanging around my butterfly bush for a couple of days.

It has been a banner year here for Dragonflies and Silver Spotted Skippers.

I still haven't found any eggs at all of any kind.


    Bookmark   July 26, 2011 at 5:40AM
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I'm having a pretty good black swallowtail year, having released 4 that overwintered and 18 that pupated this year and have 6 more cats in addition to other bst chrysalids in various stages. Haven't seen many monarchs at all, only 2 males, and finally just found one caterpillar, probably 2nd instar, on Sunday. No other eggs or signs of nibbling on the majority of my milkweeds. This is a strange year in my yard. Cicadas, katydids, crickets out much earlier than usual. Lots of hummingbird moths. Less hummingbird & butterfly activity.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2011 at 3:04PM
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terrene(5b MA)

So far has been a pretty good year, but I don't have a lot of years for reference. I have seen quite an assortment of species in the gardens, but only 1 specimen at a time.

Monarchs came through here in early June and left some eggs. I wasn't even looking, but stumbled across a little cat on one of the common Milkweeds and couldn't believe my eyes. I found another, raised those 2, and released them. Now there are 19 inside, ranging from 1st instar to chrysalis.

For BSTs, I've got 6 pupating now. I collected 10, but 1 tiny cat died, and then 3 eggs got eaten by an earwig that got into the container! 8-O

Haven't found any eggs in the past few days, but I'm hoping for lots more butterflies. Wish I could come and collect some eggs at your house Tony!

    Bookmark   July 26, 2011 at 6:27PM
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These things are all cyclical and temperature dependent. We had a boom of parasitoids and predators this Spring due to the great year for bugs and butterflies last year. Someone mentioned birds. We had a spectacular spring with birds. Flocks of indigo buntings, many scarlet tanagers, etc. This is in response to all the bugs last year. So, combine that with the lousy wet and cold spring in the midwest, the drought in Texas and Florida and that makes for bad butterflying. One species always seems to do better than others. Many parasitoids and diseases are species specific. So, a few off years can lead to a boom. I think this is the case for Black Swallowtails. we were concerned with how few of them we saw two years ago. does anyone remember about four years ago when we had Zebra swallowtails out the wazoo? Then there were hardly any.

However, now we are starting to see more as things equalize. All of those parasitoids cannot survive if few butterflies are around. Now we are starting to see things pick up. Hopefully, the folks in Texas and Florida will start getting some rain. That is what I worry about.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2011 at 7:49PM
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Tony G(5a)

You are right, there are so many things to factor in....if you lived in ALASKA, you'd be having an amazing swallowtail summer!


Here is a link that might be useful: Swallowtails In Alaska?!?!

    Bookmark   July 26, 2011 at 10:31PM
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