Last Hurrah

butterflymomok(7a NE OK)November 8, 2010

We are having a "Last Hurrah" here in NE Oklahoma. We had a hard freeze last week which pretty much nipped everything but the Aster oblongfolius and the Gaillardias. Somehow the butterflies survived and are feasting on the few blooms left.

Today I saw my first and only Texan Crescent for 2010. And it was gone in a blink. A lone Monarch made an appearance, as well as, numerous Pearl Crescents, Common Checkered Skippers, Buckeyes, Gulf Frits, a Variegated Frit, Sachems, Fieries, and Clouded Skippers, various sulphurs including a white-form Clouded Sulphur, and a lone Eufala. I've had both American Ladies and Painted Ladies in abundance this fall. We've got a nice spell of weather with strong southerly winds, so I'll be on the lookout for stragglers.

Loving it,


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I'm jealous Sandy. There aren't many flowers left in my yard or butterflies.
I didn't know gaillardia would stay in bloom after a freeze. If you have different kinds, what's their favorite? I used to have Burgundy and it died out a couple years ago.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2010 at 6:27AM
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I still have Zinnias, Mexican Sunflower, Salvias, Cosmos, Dwarf Red Porterweed, Lantanas, Asters, just about everything still blooming here. Still picking tomatos, too.

Not many butterflies, though. Yesterday just skippers and a lone Painted Lady, but I'm not outside as much now either.
I'm busy planning next year's garden, and intend to focus more on veggies, with the economy and all, and for the nutrition, too. But, simultaneously still planning for a few new butterfly garden plants. Just got Pipevine and Asclepias fruticosa seeds yesterday in the mail.

Sandy, you lucky girl - all those beautiful butterflies to enjoy!


    Bookmark   November 9, 2010 at 6:55AM
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butterflymomok(7a NE OK)


I have the regular gaillardia--think it's Goblin. Gaillardias are great for fall nectar. Just don't ever deadhead them, they don't like it and will die. I have a small colony in the garden which the butterflies ignore until late in the season. Same thing for the Golden Crownbeard. It's strange how the flowers bloom and bloom and nothing visits them. Then, all of a sudden, they are covered with pollinators.

Susan, let me know what you think about the fruticosa seeds. If they are the same as Oscar, it takes a while for them to germinate, but they grow so much better and faster than the tropical mw.

My Porterweed all got frozen this past week. I was going to take starts and didn't get it done in time. So, I'll have to rely on it coming back from seed. The lantanas are done also--the blooms are black. We had some pretty cold temps.

Watch for unusual species this week. John said they are showing up with the southerly winds.


    Bookmark   November 9, 2010 at 10:47AM
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Nice to see you still have lots of lep activity. You probably have more going on even now than I've had the entire season. We had been enjoying an "Indian summer" with sunny days, no wind and warm enough temps that it was very nice out day and night. But we got hit with a cold snap and now have high's in the mid 60's lows in the low 40's. That's cold by our standards... way cold enough for me in my tennis shorts and golf shirts when I go out for a smoke, especially from dusk to mid morning. I even have to put on shoes to go out now, and I'd also put on a jacket if I had one. (Can you imagine, I don't even own a jacket/coat or long pants anymore after so many years on the Mojave.) LOL I still have Lantana, Catalpa, Oleander and Bird of Paradise in full bloom here. All that's visiting the Lantana though is a few skippers, an ocassional Vanessa (both carye & cardui), a host of moths (of the stinky brown and stinky gray varieties) and beetles. I've seen several moth cats on the Lantana munching on the blooms that should soon pupate. Something is getting the adult moths and beetles at night as I keep finding just their wings on the patio under my night lights most mornings. Probably praying mantids, I've seen quite a few of them lately and have a few of their egg cases on the sides of the house. Lots of birds, most probably just stopping by as they head south. Was a very poor "wildlife" year here with a very short summer, and it's looking like it will be a very cold and very long winter by our standards. Wouldn't be much of a surprise if we get some of that rare white stuff on the ground this winter, even if only for a day or two.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2010 at 11:59AM
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bandjzmom(7 NWGeorgia)

Wow Sandy. Lucky you, I'd say! I can't believe that you are still seeing so many butterflies. We had a hard freeze here on Sunday, and it got almost every single flower in my yard. The only thing left is some Blanketflower and some Butterfly bush blossoms. I was out yesterday, and all I saw was one Question Mark on my fruit and a couple of Cloudless Sulphurs flying about trying to find a nectar source. Oh, and a few Skippers. Seems like we are nearly done for now, and winter is close at hand.~~Angie

    Bookmark   November 10, 2010 at 7:34AM
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Sandy, so now I know why I keep losing my perennial Gaillardias..."no dead heading allowed"!!! I thought they were like all my other flowers that keep blooming if you do! The best nectar flower that is blooming right now is the Golden Crownbeard, then lantanas & 'Lady in Red' salvias. My Blue/Purple Asters are almost finished blooming!
I am still seeing a ton of skippers, 4 different sulphur varieties, GFs both adult & cats, a Queen today, a RA, & Painted Ladies. I just saw a GST! Hopefully, I'll get cats next year with all the host plants I'm planning to add!
We are supposed to have another frost this weekend so I will cover my tender perennials one last time along with my tomatoes! I have at least a dozen green ones on the vines & lots of little Cherries!
I love having cooler temps but hate to see all the BFs & flowers disappear!!! I really prefer spring & fall here in least it's not SO HOT!!! I really get "cabin-fever" during the winter!

    Bookmark   November 10, 2010 at 1:57PM
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butterflymomok(7a NE OK)

It's another warm and blustery day. I've got the portable greenhouse set up, and have been moving the tender plants in preparation for the cold this weekend. Plus, the fact that in 10 days we leave for SE Asia to visit the DD, SIL, and grandsons. *YES!!!!* I have lots of work to do to get everything to a point of being able to survive while I'm gone. Son will house sit and dog sit.

Imabirdnut, I get "cabin-fever" too. I think it helps to spend the time getting plants started for the next spring. Lucky you seeing a Queen and GST! And, yes, the secret to growing gaillardias is to just leave them alone! You can collect seeds in the late fall, but don't strip the plants. I had Oranges and lemons come back this year which was exciting. I also have a really frilly one that returned this year. But, the fav is the old standard.


You need some warm clothes! Knowing you, you won't be able to stay inside all winter without escaping to the front porch to get some air, and 'smoke'. How cold does it get? Hopefully 2011 will be a better lep year in Nevada.

I'm wanting to take some time off next year, and do some lep trips around the SW. I have a friend who wants to make a trip to Yellowstone, so maybe I'll get to your old stomping ground. I also have an opportunity to travel to Chile with some other Lepsters here in Oklahoma. There are over 700 varieties of butterflies. (Maybe I'll see that White Butterfly!) Sounds like butterfly heaven, and the ultimate trip of a lifetime. All things to think about over the long winter!


    Bookmark   November 10, 2010 at 2:32PM
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Sandy, what kind of oranges & lemons come back for you...planted outside? & what do you mean by "really frilly one" & "fav is old standard"??? I feel like you are speaking Greek! I am a fairly new BF gardener so I'm not sure about your verbage!
Sounds like a dream trip...what is the White BF? WOW, 700 kinds of BFs...I bet you will enjoy the adventure!

    Bookmark   November 10, 2010 at 9:06PM
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butterflymomok(7a NE OK)


'Oranges and Lemons', a yellow and orange variety of Gaillardia.

'really frilly one', reference to a variety of Gaillardia, named "Frenzy" or "Commotion". (I couldn't remember the name)

'fave is old standard' is a referral to the native gaillardia, commonly known as Blanket flower. Cultivars include Goblin and Arizona Sun, and many more.

'the White Butterfly' refers to the white butterfly that was attributed with saving the life of two of the miners in the Chilean mine collapse earlier this summer. I said it in jest.

Sorry about my verbiage. I'll try to be more specific in the future.


    Bookmark   November 11, 2010 at 12:28PM
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Wow, Sandy, Chile? Sounds like the trip of a lifetime. Myself and I have always dreamed of going to Peru. Anything south of us sounds good right now. I'm enjoying the nicer weather here, but I know it will be soon and our weather will turn cold....brrrrr!

I ordered and got some seed of the Aristolochia contorta, and A. mangshuriense, too, from Georgia Vines. It seems like you may have grown the A. mangshuriense from seed, too, or am I hallucinating again??? If so, how did yours do?

I think there is only a slight difference between A. fruticosa and A. physocarpa and I think it has to do with the size of the plant, and the size of the flowers. Yes, I know they take forever to come up. I started my A. physocarpa outside last March, so I will probably try to germinate them indoors this time and see if that helps a little. I think these milkweeds leaf out quicker and thicker (ooh, I made a rhyme) than the Tropical, or at least mine did this year.

Have a great time on your trip to see your kids! Those grandkids grow up so quickly.


    Bookmark   November 11, 2010 at 10:15PM
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imabirdnut I get it! I was thinking you were referring to citrus trees! Thanks for the clarification!
I apologize...we don't watch a lot of news & I missed the "white butterfly" story but I'm thankful that the miners were saved!
Thanks again for the great info & responses to my questions! I am still a real novice to BF gardening! ;o)

    Bookmark   November 11, 2010 at 10:51PM
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While Yellowstone has over 100 resident species of butterflies (including subspecies), being there at the right time of the season and in the right places is required to see very many of them on one trip. And many there are common species found in many other places in the west as well (although many of even those would not be found in OK). Surprisingly, not that many butterflies are seen along the "tourist" byways in the park, especially not the rarer or alpine species. To get the highest species count requires hiking into the back country to all the different ecosystems found in the park. For example, if I remember right there are 5-6 different types of meadow ecosystems alone in the park, and each has it's own group of resident species because of the available LFP’s. With a few exceptions, most alpine species are seldom seen in the lowlands. “Lowlands”… with an elevation of about 5,300’ to 11,000’ (average 8,000’) in YNP, some may not call a mile to mile and a half above sea level habitat a lowland, but us Rocky Mountain born and reared boys do. LOL Butterfly season there is mostly from June to August as on average those are the only three months when nigh time lows are barely above freezing. Those are also the three wettest months in the park, so the butterflies dive into the understory when a storm approaches and only come back out when the sun does. Can be several times a day sometimes, especially at higher elevations where you can also get snow storms even in July/August. So spring species in the lowland areas peak in mid to late June and all alpine species from about mid July to mid August. There are specific places and times for some specific species that won't be seen anywhere else except at those places/times. They are usually harder to get to and they are usually where the rarer species live.

As you know I'll suggest, at least one day needs to be spent up on the Beartooth Plateau as a must do if you go to YNP and GTNP. It's a beautiful drive out the northeast entrance to Cooke City and up to the West Summit (11,011') at least on the Bicentennial Hwy 212 (that you can easily drive an RV on), as well as all the way to Red Lodge. Total road miles to Red Lodge is less than 70 miles, but the West Summit is only about 30 miles. You’ll see endless top of the world views up there with thousands of alpine lakes, waterfalls, more wildflowers than you can imagine, Grasshopper Glacier & Hell Roaring Plateau, etc. Mid July to mid August is the best time to be up there if you want to see millions of alpine leps all on the wing at the same time. But be prepared for snow any day during that time. If you want to spend more than a day on the BTP, the Top of the World Store (about 10 miles before West summit) has cabins they rent (at 9400').

BTW, if you’ve never been there do Grand Teton NP and Jackson Hole as well. And when in Jackson grab a meal at Jedidiah’s.

The tropical regions of the America’s host the greatest diversity overall in lep species worldwide. So the possibility of 700 in Chile is not surprising at all. Is that at one location? Back when I was doing the tropics, a couple of colleges determined nearly 1500 at one small location in Tambopata, Peru, and 1300 near Tingo Maria. That fits though as Peru has the most lep species of any country worldwide with about 3800 (so far). Last counts I have records for shows Peru is followed by Equatorial Africa with 3600, Brazil, Columbia and Ecuador with 3200 each, Venezuela with 2300, Mexico with1800, Costa Rica and Panama with 1500 species each determined so far. Number 10 is missing from my list for some reason (and it was a Top 10 list). I’m not sure where Chile falls on the list.

As for your ribbing: Since the lives of the Chilean people is so heavily shrouded in superstition turned folklore, I’d bet you’d hear a lot of tall tales there about butterflies, white or otherwise. ;)

You’re getting to be quite a globe trotter with plans in the works for Laos, Mexico, Chile and YNP.


    Bookmark   November 12, 2010 at 4:37AM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

I've still got lots of butterflies, too, Sandy. There's one bed in my garden where my rice button asters/Aster dumosus, are blooming, alongside pentas, Salvia coccinea, and giant cigar plant - there is a Salvia regla that is blooming in another bed, that's really attracting the butterflies, too.
I've been seeing probably 6-8 common checkered skippers on the asters every sunny day, plus lots of cloudless sulphurs, sleepy oranges, little yellows, gulf frits, and unidentified grass skippers. Also, there are gulf frit cats on some of the passionvines, some nearly full grown, some very small.
We haven't had a freeze here yet and aren't scheduled for one any time soon, so the flowers will probably continue to bloom for a while.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2010 at 7:35PM
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butterflymomok(7a NE OK)


We are having our 3rd frost tonight. Today I still had some butterflies--mostly Pearl Crescents and Common Checkered Skippers. They were nectaring on the gaillardias as that's about the only plants still blooming.

The butterfly numbers are dwindling by the day. I expect that by the end of next week, there won't be any left.

Did you ever see any Monarchs this fall? Seems like there was a definite migration pattern along the gulf coast.


    Bookmark   November 13, 2010 at 11:22PM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

Yes, I saw a few floating through, not in any great numbers, though. And none stopped to lay eggs on my milkweed.
We've had several cold spells, too, and the weatherman said we might get down to 32 degrees for one of them, but it didn't happen - I never saw any lower than 40 on my thermometer.
I've been working outside a lot lately, because now's such a great time - 'love those cooler temps!

    Bookmark   November 14, 2010 at 9:38AM
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