good year for butterflies

Pipersville_Carol(z6 Bucks PA)July 26, 2006

I've been seeing loads of butterflies this year, more so than ever before. Lots of yellow Monarchs (do they have a special name?), Swallowtails, and orange Monarchs.

One corner of my garden has a big patch of milkweed growing naturally. I think I read that Monarchs eat milkweed, so I didn't weed it out this year. It's a very pretty plant, nice foliage.

Anyone else seen lots of butterflies?

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alexander3_gw(6 Pennsylvania)

I believe Monarchs lay their eggs exclusively on milkweed family plants.

My garden is just three years old, and in the middle of suburbia, so I don't get that many butterflies. There has been a Monarch spending a lot of time here though. I've also seen swallowtails laying their eggs of the Queen Anne's Lace and Lovage, but I've only found one caterpillar so far...it's a beauty!

Alex

    Bookmark   July 26, 2006 at 5:11PM
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cyberianblonde(z6 PA)

Carol,
I was just remarking today how many butterflies I've noticed this year.Silly me I thought it was because of all the special plants I was growing for them this year....LOL
I even hand-raised a couple!
Very interesting and very exciting to have one emerge from the chryslis in my kitchen!!
I was squealing like a little girl....LOL!!
Here it is when I released it.Isn't it gorgeous?

Becky

    Bookmark   July 26, 2006 at 9:33PM
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luvsgrtdanes

Carol, the yellow monarch you are seeing is probably an eastern tiger swallowtail. Monarchs are only orange.
I have more this year than ever before. I do know I have planted a lot of things for them. It feels like the yard is alive sometimes!!

Becky that's a beauty!!!

Here is a link that might be useful: eastern swallowtail

    Bookmark   July 27, 2006 at 9:18PM
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gazania_gw

I am seeing fewer this year than last. My butterfly bushes (I have 5 of them) are just now starting to bloom. Last year at this time they were in full bloom and covered with butterflies. In one 15 minute period last year I counted 11 different species. Sure hope they all come back this year.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2006 at 9:43PM
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naturenut_pa(z6 PA)

I've got about 9 or 12 butterfly bushes in the front yard (How sad is that...not knowing what's in your garden!), as well as some butterfly weed from prior plant swaps. There are ALWAYS butterflies swarming about. What I find fascinating is that you can get so close to them.

Becky
Wow...raising butterflies by hand! That is so cool.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2006 at 10:12AM
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mwoods

tons of them here in my part of Bucks County also,which is such a pleasure. Another thing too is the abundance of honeybees. Someone around here,or maybe it's several people,have very active hives. There are no known native bee colonies in Pa at the moment,which is kind of sad.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2006 at 10:39AM
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Pipersville_Carol(z6 Bucks PA)

No known native bee colonies, that's sad. Were they wiped out by mites?

I thought swallowtails were the dark butterflies (like the one you hatched, Becky). Or are that another variety of swallowtail, different from the eastern yellow swallowtail?

    Bookmark   July 28, 2006 at 10:50AM
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naturenut_pa(z6 PA)

I've noticed an increase in the number of honeybees also. Not many, but more than in the past. Somebody once told me that there were a higher number of active apiaries across the river in NJ, and that's where the bees were coming from.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2006 at 10:10PM
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anubis_pa(z5 PA)

That's interesting about the honeybees. Maybe I'm mistaking some other bee for them, or they travel quite far each day? The closest bee boxes I know of are about 3 miles from me, on the other side of a mountain.

As for butterflies, I think I've noticed 3 different kinds around our deck without looking too hard. I don't think there's more this year than last, but last year it seemed to be a noticeable increase from years past.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2006 at 9:38AM
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jenny_in_se_pa(USDA7 Sunset 32)

Carol - I remember posting a photo of one like Becky's over in the Butterfly Forum and it was ID'd as a Red-spotted Purple (some places consider them one of the Admirals). The below is one that I took at my sister's place as it lounged in her veggie garden:

I would agree about seeing more this year - even some flitting up here on my balcony (never have camera ready though...lol).

    Bookmark   July 29, 2006 at 11:46AM
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zeffyrose_pa6b7(6b7)

What beautiful pictures.

Becky---Your butterfly is beautiful

Florence

    Bookmark   July 29, 2006 at 8:21PM
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alexander3_gw(6 Pennsylvania)

>There are no known native bee colonies in Pa at the moment

That's a pretty strong statement... known to who, I wonder? I see honeybees regularly this year, and living in the middle of suburbia on 0.4 acre lots, I'd be surprised if someone is keeping bees around here, but you never know. How far do they travel for flowers?

My cousin in the Akron, Ohio area (Copley) keeps bees, and he told me about a honeybee colony he saw there. That's ~60 miles from the Pennsylvania border.

Alex

    Bookmark   July 31, 2006 at 12:41AM
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jenny_in_se_pa(USDA7 Sunset 32)

Alex - I think mwoods literally means "native" bees (ie., native to North America). The common honey bees that are kept by beekeepers are not North American natives but come from Europe. It's just like what has happened to ladybugs - the native lady beetle has more and more been supplanted by the imported asian lady beetle (which is the type commonly offered via mail order and at some gardening stores for release to take care of pests like aphids, etc).

    Bookmark   July 31, 2006 at 10:43AM
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fourseasonspa

My company recently did a butterfly release of 250 monarchs and 250 painted ladies. I certainly hope these guys will contribute to more great years of butterfly sightings. The event was really beautiful! Becky and Jenny: Wish you two had your photos submitted in our butterfly photo contest! They are beautiful!

I live in the Micheaux forest and I have noticed both the tiger swallowtail and the guy in Jenny's photo all over my woods this year. Sure glad I have some flowers for them to spend a little more time in my yard -- it has been a real treat!

    Bookmark   August 1, 2006 at 9:27PM
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melissas(z6PA)

My homeschooled son has been studying butterflies this summer. He has been gently catching and identifying them. Before he started doing this I would have guessed there were maybe 5 different kinds in our garden, but to date he has identified 12!! We are really very excited about this, and will plant more butterfly attracting plants next year. By the way, Becky's is a black swallowtail (see the gorgeous long "tails" on its hind wings?) Have fun in your garden!!

    Bookmark   August 3, 2006 at 1:19PM
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livestrong(SE Pa)

Lots of butterflies in my yard this year too! Seems like more than ever, and I only have one butterfly bush! I think I will have to take a closer look to identify the types. Lots of yellow and black/blue here in Hatboro on the county line of Bucks and Montgomery.
Carol

    Bookmark   August 12, 2006 at 1:48AM
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dirtdivarocks(z6 SW PA)

Hi everyone
I'm from the other side of the state and yes, I have noticed a lot of butterflies this year. This thread caught my attention because my daughter and I were driving along and a butterfly (it was yellow) smashed into the car last week. You would have thought we killed Bambi, it was sad. Then just yesterday I saw another yellow butterfly nearly smash into my windshield. Very strange.... never happened before.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2006 at 10:28AM
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dicentra(z6B)

Yes, more butterflies this year than last! Besides the Black and Yellow Tiger Swallowtails, I'm happily seeing more Monarchs...yea! I've noticed more honeybees around, too. The farm around the road from me, Fox Chase Farm, maintains honey hives, so I think they're coming from over there.
There is a Master Gardener butterfly display garden at the Fairmount Park Horticulture Center and I would encourage people to visit the display grounds. Not only are they teeming with butterflies, but the gardens are beautiful and free to visit.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2006 at 11:54AM
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steel_magnolia_usa(5B)

I live in a small town and am not in the country. I have noticed more butterflies and honeybees also, more than I ever remember seeing here. I am 20 min. north of Pgh and am so excited and hoping the butterflies & honeybees keep multiplying here! Sure wish I would find a praying mantis, that is one thing I've never ever spotted in my garden and wished I would.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2006 at 11:20PM
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gazania_gw

At last, the butterflies are showing up in larger numbers. Many more Swallowtails than in the past. More Monarch than last year, but not nearly as many as 3 and 4 years ago. The Painted Ladies are down from last year, but the Fritillary numbers are up. Yesterday I found 5 Monarch cats feeding in the butterfly weed. I am sure there are more. I am about 40 mins north of Pittsburgh.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2006 at 7:19AM
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geoforce(z7a SE PA)

I have jillions of tiger swallowtails, and lots of black swallowtails, many fritillaries, sulphurs, and a few other minor species. Have not seen a single monarch although I grow several milkweed species for them. I have at least one happy monarch caterpillar I've watched for several days munching on a 'Hello Yellow' butterfly weed, but have seen no adults.

George

    Bookmark   August 14, 2006 at 10:25AM
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cranebill(6)

Hi,

Yes, most definitely many more monarchs. I had commented on this earlier in the summer to my husband, and just a few days ago to a native habitat plantsperson whom I know. Told them that I've been seeing on average a dozen monarchs a day during the hour or two I spend in my backyard, a stunning contrast to the dozen or two I'd been seeing ALL SUMMER in the previous decade or so. So heartening to see them again, along with the return of the honeybees!

The monarchs always fly southwest through my small city backyard, stopping at the butterfly bush (of course) and the butterfly weed (natch!), and dill, daisies, cosmos and salvias. They're no doubt flying to Mexico. I recall there was a big scare a few years ago when an untimely frost struck the groves of trees where they overwinter in Mexico. The conservationists must have done something right to rescue them from the threat of freezing. I've also been wondering whether a greener approach to gardening and a more widespread popularity of native habitat gardening may be factors in the monarch revival. My friend who advocates for native plants believes that the sustained precipitation we've seen in Pennsylvania this spring and summer have been favorable to the monarch's life cycle, hence more butterflies. Any thoughts?

Whatever, it's really great to see so many of them. Almost like when I was a kid roaming around in the fields and weedlots that once stood in place of today's subdivisions and commercial developments.

cranebill

    Bookmark   September 11, 2006 at 9:52PM
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Pipersville_Carol(z6 Bucks PA)

I remember reading a few years back that a popular genetically-modified corn was toxic to monarchs. I wonder if their population has shifted from the Midwest to the Northeast as a result. Maybe the Midwest ones are dying out, leaving more breeding opportunities for the Northeast ones.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2006 at 1:35PM
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cranebill(6)

Wow, gazania and geoforce! Didn't notice your fritillaries the first time I read through these posts. I thought they were extirpated in most of PA, but I do recall seeing a spot on the local news when I was traveling through SE PA about a few isolated meadows - can't recall which county - where they were being seen in small numbers. The biologists and ecologists were thrilled. Now I'm wondering if the fritillary populations have been growing in the last few years?

I'm unable to resist boasting some about the critters in my backyard. It's urban and tiny, but I see many varieties of ladybugs, mantises frequently along with three of their egg cases, and many pretty and weird wasps (tiny irridescent green ones swarmed in the thousands around my bronze fennels this year). And more species of butteflies every year. I've never seen a fritallary, though. I wouldn't even recognize one unless I checked a field guide beforehand.

By the way, I find mantis egg cases every year, but this year I plan to overwinter them in a ventilated jar in a sheltered spot outside so that I can watch them hatch before releasing them in my yard. I hope doing this is not illegal.

Think I could faint if I see a fritillary in Allentown next summer, but I can hope.

cranebill

    Bookmark   October 13, 2006 at 1:44PM
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Treehgr(z6/N. BUCKS, PA)

This was a terrific year for butterflies. Three years ago I started a native plant garden with joe pye weed, viburnum, serviceberry, dogwood and milkweed plants. This year I had many, many visiting butterflies, particularly Monarchs,Swallowtails, Skippers.

To my absolute joy, my milkweed plants became host to many, many munching monarch catarpillers. I never located a single chrysalis, but i hope my catarpillers thrived to become a new generation of monarchs to fly back down to Mexico.

On a sadder noter, the honeybee population in my back yard seems to have diminished from prior years. I have an abundance of honey bee magnet plants, mountain mint and russian sage. Yet very few honey bees :-(

    Bookmark   October 25, 2006 at 11:12AM
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Pipersville_Carol(z6 Bucks PA)

What does a monarch caterpillar look like?

    Bookmark   October 25, 2006 at 12:33PM
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scrappyjack

Monarch caterpillars are very beautiful. They are striped vertically in black white and yellow.

Here's a link with great photos www.monarchbutterflyusa.com/Caterpillar.htm

    Bookmark   October 25, 2006 at 1:15PM
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mymacca(z6 SE PA)

I didn't see as many butterflies this year but it may have been because I didn't spend as much time in my garden. The mosquitoes were so bad that they were biting in mid-day if you happened to be in the shade.

I saw a few zebra swallowtails and and a few black swallowtails..but I didn't see any hummers this year or any mantis.... and my garden is usually FULL of them.

I especially like the mantis'. It's funny when you talk to them and it seem like they are listening!

    Bookmark   October 26, 2006 at 12:04AM
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jrdpa(6)

I just discovered this particular forum, but I saw a couple of butterflies quite a few times this year. I had begonias, verbena, and dahlias they seemed to love.

I have a couple of photos of them, the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail and Spicebush Swallowtail, posted online.

Here is a link that might be useful: My Flowers / Butterflies

    Bookmark   November 25, 2006 at 6:10PM
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jrdpa(6)

Goofed on that last link, add a d for jrdpa.tripod.com not jrpa...urgh.

    Bookmark   November 25, 2006 at 6:12PM
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