Wildlife Wednesday: Eastern Black Swallowtail

Novembr 27, 2018, I spotted two tough little Eastern Black Swallowtail cats munching on a lone fennel plant, left in a cleared out bed at the Williamsburg Botanical garden.

~

Eastern Black swallowtails lay their eggs and their larvae feed on parsley and fennel. This bed was filled with Lantana, Salvia, and with fennel all summer, and hosted many butterflies from May until November.

~

Butterflies covered this planting of Lantana at the Williamsburg Botanical Garden in August.

~

~

When I told my friend Judith about the caterpillars, she came and rescued them the afternoon before a hard freeze, at the very end of November.

~

Judith cared for the caterpillars until each formed its chrysalis, feeding them organic parsley in little habitats indoors; then she added them to her collection of living chrysalides. She cared for the sleeping caterpillars all winter and brought them over to our garden yesterday morning,  just as they were ready to leave their chrysalides as butterflies.

~

She named the two caterpillars rescued from the fennel at the botanical garden ‘Rough’ and ‘Tough’. They spent the winter pinned to this Styrofoam in her butterfly habitat.

~

A total of three Black Swallowtail butterflies emerged during her visit yesterday morning. She generously set all three free in our garden. There were two males and a female. The amount of blue on the hindwings is the main way to distinguish gender in these swallowtail butterflies.

~

Here Judith is releasing the first of the butterflies, a female. Then she invited us to help release the other two butterflies into the garden.

~

~

The butterflies need some time for their wings to fully stretch, dry and toughen before they are ready to fly. We were able to hold and observe them as they prepared for their first flight.

~

~

Would you like to attract butterflies to your garden?

The first step is to plant a variety of both nectar plants and host plants.  Nectar plants attract butterflies, and host plants allow them to lay their eggs and will feed the larvae as they grow.

If you attract butterflies and host their larvae, it is important to commit to not using insecticides in your garden.  Yes, the larvae will eat some leaves on their chosen host plant.  The plants will survive.

~

~

Fennel and parsley host several types of swallowtail caterpillars.  Other easy to grow host plants include oak trees; spicebush, Lindera benzoin;  paw paw trees, Dutchman’s pipevine, Aristolochia macrophylla; passionfruit vine, Passiflora lutea; and even common wood violets.

Most butterflies prefer very specific host plants and may only use one or two.  For example, Monarch butterflies want Asclepias, or milkweed.  There are several different species of Asclepias available, and most all of them will support Monarchs.

It is useful to do a little research on common butterflies that live in your own region, and then plant their host plants, if you don’t have them growing on your property already.

~

This was the last of the three butterflies to emerge from chrysalis, and the last to be released. He wasn’t ready to fly, and so we gently placed him on this red bud tree, where he rested while his wings hardened. Finally, he also flew away into the garden.

~

Butterflies need safe places to shelter out of the wind at night and during storms.  Trees and dense shrubs serve them well.  They also need places where they can ‘puddle,’ landing on the ground to drink water from mudpuddles, moist earth, or even shallow saucers filled with gravel and water.  Butterflies need the minerals they absorb this way.

Butterflies will feed from a variety of nectar plants, including trees, vines, and flowering plants you may plant in baskets, pots or beds.  Lantana is an absolute favorite source of nectar.  Agastache, anise hyssop, attracts even more butterflies than Lantana!  All Verbenas attract butterflies and are very easy to grow.  The more flowers your garden offers, at a variety of heights, the more butterflies will likely stop by to visit your garden.

~

We have seen a variety of butterflies in our garden already this spring, including Black Swallowtails. In fact, an hour or so after the release, we saw another Black Swallowtail laying eggs on an emerging fennel plant in the upper garden. This is one of the butterflies we released, resting before its first flight,

~

There are many butterflies and moths native in Virginia and all of them are currently in decline. We have a network of dedicated butterfly enthusiasts in our area who rescue and raise cats, releasing the butterflies into the wild as they emerge. By protecting the butterfly larvae, they help insure that more individuals make it to the adult butterfly stage, mate, and increase the population.

~

One of the greatest problems faced by butterflies is loss of habitat.  The native plants they depend on to raise their next generation are often the ones removed for development, but not replanted by landscapers.

Gardeners can make a significant difference by providing a small bit of habitat in their own yard.  Like a patch in a quilt, our own bit of habitat may be small.  But, when many of us are all working together, we can provide safe places for butterflies to rest and refuel along their migration routes, and can provide safe and welcoming places for them to lay their eggs.

~

Butterflies feed on Agastache ‘Blue Fortune’

~

By working together, each of us providing a bit of habitat and safety for butterflies, we can help support the next generations of butterflies; making sure that our own grandchildren can enjoy these beautiful insects and share their magic with their own children, far into the future.

Will you join us?

~

~

Woodland Gnome 2019

~

An Eastern Tiger Swallowtail feeding on Verbena bonariensis ‘Lollipop’.

Advertisements

Wildlife Wednesday: Great Blue Heron

~

“Here is your country.
Cherish these natural wonders, cherish the natural resources,
cherish the history and romance as a sacred heritage,
for your children and your children’s children.
Do not let selfish men or greedy interests
skin your country of its beauty,
its riches or its romance.”
.
Theodore Roosevelt
~
~
“Nature is not a place to visit. It is home.”
.
Gary Snyder
~
~
“The wild is where you find it,
not in some distant world relegated to a nostalgic past
or an idealized future;
its presence is not black or white, bad or good,
corrupted or innocent…
We are of that nature, not apart from it.
We survive because of it, not instead of it.”
.
Renee Askins

~

~

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2019

~

~

“The boundary between tame and wild
exists only in the imperfections
of the human mind.”
.
Aldo Leopold


Wild Thing Wednesday

A female Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterfly feeds on Lantana.

~

The beautiful Eastern Tiger Swallowtail shares our garden through much of the year.  It is frequently the first butterfly we spot each spring and can be seen deep into autumn, enjoying our warm and sunny Indian summer days while seeking every last drop of nectar our flowers can produce.

~

~

This is the first butterfly recorded by an English explorer on this coast of North America.  John White drew an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail in 1587, while he was exploring Virginia with Sir Walter Raleigh’s third expedition.  John White called his drawing “Mamankanois,” which is believed to be the native word for ‘butterfly.’  This beautiful butterfly received its official Latin name, Papillio glaucus, from Carl Linnaeus in 1758.

~

~

You’ll find this butterfly across the eastern half of North America.  The species once included butterflies in Eastern Canada, too.  But Eastern Tiger Swallowtails living in Canada were given their own species designation in 1991: ‘Papilio glaucus canadensis.’

An adult female may lay two or three broods of eggs over the summer.  Host plants include wild black cherry, sweetbay Magnolia, tulip poplar, cottonwood, common lilac and willow.  You may notice that these are all common trees or shrubs.

You can easily spot the females by the beautiful blue markings on their wings.  Females may have mostly yellow wings or mostly black wings; but they always have blue markings on their hindwings .

~

A male Eastern Tiger Swallowtail feeds on Lantana at the Williamsburg Botanical Garden in mid-July.

~

Males have yellow wings with the distinctive black striping that earns them the name, ‘Tiger Swallowtail.’

~

~

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterflies remain fairly solitary, and are often found high up in the canopy of host trees.  They live mostly on nectar, though they may be seen ‘puddling’ on damp ground to drink water.

These are common butterflies that have adapted to a wide range of habitats, nectar sources and host plants.  They aren’t officially considered endangered, though shrinking habitats and use of insecticides has certainly affected their populations, too.

~

~

The quickest, easiest way to attract swallowtail butterflies to your garden is to plant Lantana.  Butterflies love Lantana, though its not a native plant in our area.  They don’t care.  It must have lots of sweet nectar, because it is common to see several species of butterfly gathering around the Lantana in our garden.

~

~

You’ll see swallowtail butterflies on other flowering plants, too.  They especially enjoy clusters of many small flowers, where they can stand and drink at their leisure.  Purple coneflowers, Rudbeckias, Monarda, Verbena, dill and fennel flowers also attract their attention.

~

~

If you love watching butterflies, you’ll love the Butterfly Festival at the Williamsburg Botanical Garden this weekend.  Come into the tents and enjoy hand-feeding these lovely creatures and observing them up close.  There will be several species of butterfly on display, including Monarchs, several different swallowtails and painted ladies.

There is no charge to enjoy the garden or the butterflies, and there will be lots of fellow butterfly enthusiasts on hand to share the excitement.  Butterfly host and nectar plants will be available for sale, and there are crafts for the little ones.

~

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

~

Native butterflies are an important part of our history and our heritage.   As we watch them float around the garden, we are simply the latest generation in an unbroken chain of naturalists, smitten by their beauty.

~

~

Woodland Gnome 2018
*
“Butterflies are nature’s tragic heroes.
They live most of their lives being completely ordinary.
And then, one day, the unexpected happens.
They burst from their cocoons in a blaze of colors
and become utterly extraordinary.
It is the shortest phase of their lives,
but it holds the greatest importance.
It shows us how empowering change can be.”
.
Kelseyleigh Reber

~

The Devil’s Walkingstick, Aralia spinosa provides nectar when in bloom, and thousands of tasty berries in the autumn.  It also supports 7 larval species.  Here, an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail enjoys its nectar.  2017

 

 

Wednesday Vignette: Connected

~

“Just as the wave cannot exist for itself,

but is ever a part of the heaving surface of the ocean,

so must I never live my life for itself,

but always in the experience which is going on around me.”

.

Albert Schweitzer

~

~

“There is a deep interconnectedness of all life on earth,

from the tiniest organisms,

to the largest ecosystems,

and absolutely between each person.”

.

Bryant McGill

~

~

“When we know ourselves to be connected to all others,

acting compassionately is simply the natural thing to do. ”

.

Rachel Naomi Remen

~

~

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2017

~

~

“…the Ultimate Truth: nothing exists in the universe

that is separate from anything else.

Everything is intrinsically connected,

irrevocably interdependent,

interactive, interwoven into the fabric of all of life.”

.

Neale Donald Walsch

 

 

 

Wordless Wednesday

August 24, 2016 Caladiums 005
~
“It is good to love many things,
for therein lies the true strength,
and whosoever loves much performs much,
and can accomplish much,
and what is done in love is well done.”
.
Vincent van Gogh

~

August 24, 2016 Caladiums 014

~

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2016

Wednesday Vignette: Rudbeckia

August 17, 2016 garden 038

~

“From a bud of the evening

a flower opens its petal in the dawn.

The world sees the bud of the last night

smiling with nectar on its lips.

No one observed the diligence

that was needed

for the opening of each petal.”

.

Pratibha Ray

~

August 17, 2016 garden 039

~

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2016

~

August 17, 2016 garden 043

~

“Amateurs look for inspiration;

the rest of us just get up and go to work.”

.

Chuck Close

Wildlife Wednesday

July 27, 2016 morning garden 016

~

The beauty and mystery of this world

only emerges through affection, attention,

interest and compassion . . .

open your eyes wide and actually see this world

by attending to its colors, details and irony.”

.

Orhan Pamuk

~

July 27, 2016 morning garden 017

~

“Once again, we are reminded that awakening,

or enlightenment is not the property of Buddhism,

any more than Truth is the property of Christianity.

Neither the Buddha nor the Christ

belongs exclusively to the communities

that were founded in their names.

They belong to all people of goodwill,

all who are attentive to the secret

which lives in the depths

of their breath and their consciousness.”

.

Jean-Yves Leloup

~

July 27, 2016 morning garden 010

~

“The best way to capture moments is to pay attention.

This is how we cultivate mindfulness.

Mindfulness means being awake.

It means knowing what you are doing.”

.

Jon Kabat-Zinn

~

July 27, 2016 morning garden 066

~

“Miracles… seem to me to rest not so much

upon… healing power coming suddenly

near us from afar but upon our perceptions

being made finer, so that, for a moment,

our eyes can see and our ears can hear

what is there around us always.”

.

Willa Cather

~

July 26, 2016 leaves 049

~

Appreciation to Tina, at My Gardener Says, for hosting Wildlife Wednesday the first Wednesday of each month.  She has hosted this meme for a little more than two years now, encouraging all of us to notice the wildlife sharing our gardens.

Tina writes:  ” Especially in urban areas, planting for birds, pollinators, and other wild animals helps balance ongoing damage to natural zones and allows our world to heal–if just a little bit–by providing for those who can’t speak for themselves and with whom we share our world.”

~
July 27, 2016 morning garden 057
~
Photos by Woodland Gnome 2016

~

July 27, 2016 morning garden 056

 

 

Wildlife Wednesday

July 13, 2016 garden close ups 032

~

“Mindfulness is not the path of chasing.

It is the path of beautification.

When flowers blossom, the fragrance spreads,

and the bees come.”

.

Amit Ray

~

July 13, 2016 garden close ups 030

~

“We need to return to harmony with Nature

and with each other,

to become what humans were destined to be,

builders of gardens and Shires,

hobbits (if you will),

not Masters over creatures great and small.”

.

Steve Bivans

~

July 13, 2016 garden close ups 024

~

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2016

~

July 13, 2016 garden close ups 027

~

“Gardens are not made by singing ‘Oh, how beautiful!’

and sitting in the shade.”

.

Rudyard Kipling

~

July 13, 2016 garden close ups 004

~

 

“It is not reasonable that art should win

the place of honor over our great and powerful

mother Nature. We have so overloaded

the beauty and richness of her works

by our inventions that we have quite smothered her.”

.

Michel de Montaigne

~

July 13, 2016 garden close ups 002

Our Latest Experiment: Milorganite

Connie Hansen Garden, Lincoln City Oregon

The Connie Hansen Garden, in Lincoln City, Oregon, where deer roam freely through the beach front community.  This beautiful garden remains open to the public – and the deer- year round.

~

A friend and neighbor, allies in our battle against hungry deer, first mentioned Milorganite several years back.  I’d never heard of the stuff.  She said she was trying it as a deer deterrent with some success.

She and her partner garden on one of the most exposed water front lots in our part of the community.  We collaborated together on our list of deer resistant plants, but I never followed up on her suggestion to try Milorganite.  Now I wish we had…..milorganite

A year or so later, a Gloucester based landscaper suggested it to me again.  He recommended creating a barrier around one’s entire garden by broadcasting a 3′-4′ wide strip of the smelly stuff around the perimeter of any area you need to protect.  He swore deer wouldn’t cross it.  Sounded like a good idea; which I filed away to explore in more detail later.

Meanwhile, our personal battle to protect our garden from the deer continues.  It’s not just the plants we want to protect from their grazing.  Deer carry ticks, and ticks carry Lyme’s disease and other nasty infections.  We’ve both had several bites over the years followed by expensive visits to the doctor, tests, and prescriptions.

Lyme’s disease is one of those infections one never truly gets over; it can linger in the body and flare up later in unexpected ways.  It changes people’s lives in unpleasant ways; another reason to stay away from deer and ticks.  We figured this out, of course, only after we fell in love with the community  and bought our little forest garden.  We’ve learned a great deal since then.

~

August 27, 2014 Parkway 021

~

After nearly seven years of finding ways to foil the deer, a few somehow still slip into the garden from time to time.  And once in, they find tasties to nibble while spreading ticks and leaving their little ‘gifts.’   We’ve both had ticks latch onto us this spring, already.

~

By mid-August of 2014 surrounding shrubs shade the actual raised bed..

By mid-August, our garden grows in with plenty of temptations for grazing deer.

~

But a casual conversation with one of the garden experts at Lowes, earlier this week, reminded me of Milorganite.  She gardens on the Northern Neck, along the Piankatank River slightly north of Williamsburg.  And she contends with herds of deer, too.  She highly recommended Milorganite as a deer repellent in the garden.

~

August 7, 2014 garden 040

~

Now, before we go any further in this story, I need to share with you our real reason for avoiding Milorganite all these years.  I was all set to try it years ago until we learned its true nature:  municipal sewage sludge.  Somehow we just didn’t want to spread dried sewage all around our garden, despite its potential benefits.

Since 1926, the city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, has processed the sludge from its sewage treatment plant to produce a 5-2-0 natural fertilizer known as Milorganite. Milwaukee Organic Nitrogen” was devised to reduce material in landfills while recycling this natural source of nitrogen as a safe fertilizer for lawns, golf courses, and agriculture.  The dried sewage is heat dried to kill bacteria and other pathogens, then pelletized to produce an easy to apply, dust free organic fertilizer.  But all the processing doesn’t completely remove the odor, which is why Milorganite repels deer.

~

Rose scented Geranium

Rose scented geranium has proven a more pleasant deer repellent than sprays.  We plant scented Pelargoniums all around the garden to protect tasty shrubs and perennials.  They also repel mosquitoes, ticks, and other insects.

~

If you’ve bought a spray bottle of deer repellent lately, you know it’s very pricey.  Whether you buy Plantskydd , Repells- All, or some other product; you make an investment which often washes away in the next thunderstorm.

After resisting Milorganite these last few years, we finally decided to try it earlier this week.  The little guys have been slipping through our ‘deer fences’ and have already grazed some favorite roses and Camellias just as they leafed out this spring.  We are weary of chasing them out of the garden with no clue as to how they get in or out….

A 36 pound bag of Milorganite, enough to treat 2500 square feet, was only around $13.00 at Lowes.  On Monday afternoon we decided to give it a try, and bought a bag. Produced as a ‘slow release’ fertilizer, it lasts a long time before it completely dissolves into the soil.  How long will it work for us?  That is part of our experiment….

~

April 5, 2016 070

~

I suited up in my usual garden ‘get up,’ covered head to toe, with hat and gloves; and broadcast the first strip of Milorganite along our street.  Using a recycled plastic quart food container, I shook a light application in the spaces between our shrubs, and especially around the Camellias, from the pavement back to our deer fence behind the shrubs.

It wasn’t bad, really.  It didn’t smell as bad as the sprays we use, and was so much easier to apply.  Our single bag proved sufficient to broadcast a 4′ perimeter around our entire garden, and also to make barriers around vulnerable beds of Azaleas, roses, Hydrangeas, and perennials.  I laid a stripe everywhere we know the deer frequent in our garden.

~

Azaleas once filed our front garden. In recent years, a growing herd of deer graze on what little remains.

Azaleas once filed our front garden. In recent years, a growing herd of deer graze on what little remains.

~

Although the University of Georgia has published studies on Milorganite as a deer repellent, it isn’t marketed as one.  Its use to repel animals is a ‘word of mouth’ sort of thing between gardeners.  And how long a single application will last depends on any number of variables.  We plan to spread it again by the middle of June, then again in September.  Based on what we’ve read, it should last close to 90 days during the growing season.

Now we watch and wait.  My daydreams of full, lush Azalea shrubs and un-grazed roses may finally come true.  Our hopes to finally watch our Hostas mature, un-nibbled and full, may be realized this year.  Faith, hope and love wax strongest in a gardener’s heart in early spring, before realities set in.

~

June 21 Lanai 022~

I’ll let you know how it works, of course.  If Milorganite performs as well as other gardeners have promised, we might actually plant a few vegetables later in the season with hope to harvest a cucumber or two!  I’m curious to learn whether it deters squirrels, rabbits, voles, and other mammals, in addition to deer.  If it does, we will use it faithfully from now on.

~

May 15, 2015 roses 010~

We may be holding our noses, metaphorically speaking, but we’ll gladly support the city of Milwaukee in their recycling efforts.  And we’ll spread the word as broadly as we spread the Milorganite!

Have you tried Milorganite in your garden?  If you have, how well does  it work for you?

~

It was almost 9 PM when I took these photos of our rabbit on Wednesday evening. A long day, indeed.

~

Woodland Gnome 2016

In recognition of Wildlife Wednesday

(Tina has posted some lovely photos of birds visiting her garden this month. 

Please visit her for links to other Wildlife Wednesday posts this April.)

 

~

April 5, 2016 051

A mother Cardinal built her nest by our kitchen door. We feel honored by her trust.

 

Wednesday Already?

February 29, 2016 early flowers 055

~

This haunting photo taken on Monday is my lone offering for Tina’s Wildlife Wednesday this month.

It is a shell my partner spotted lying on the sidewalk in Brent and Becky Heath’s display gardens when we visited earlier this week. He had an eye for small treasures like this, while I was totally absorbed in the spring flowers we found.

We’ve been enjoying the many birds who visit our garden, but I haven’t the talent Tina has for attracting and photographing them.  I hope you will click to visit her post and share one of her secrets for photographing birds, which is absolutely clever!  And then,  if you have a moment, please also check out her gentle reminders to provide safe haven for our precious pollinators.

We were thrilled to find these trees already in bloom in Gloucester; an early food source for those hungry bees!  The Heaths maintain many hives at their garden.

~

February 29, 2016 early flowers 056

~

We did spot this wonderful guy beside the water garden, guarding some Crocus,

~

February 29, 2016 early flowers 018~

and this beautiful Koi enjoying the bright sunshine on his pool.

~

February 29, 2016 early flowers 022

~

But, I was searching for the earliest blossoms from the Heath’s extensive collection of spring bulbs.

~

February 29, 2016 early flowers 038

~

This little winter blooming Iris unguicularis caught my imagination at planting time last fall, and I planted the tiny bulbs in pots.  The one above is growing by the Heath’s water garden in Gloucester.  The one below is the first Iris to bloom in a pot in our garden this year.

~

March 2, 2016 Iris 003

~

It is still very early to expect to find much in the garden.  Our friend who works in the shop on Mondays reminded us of this.  But I was already headed outside, and knew there would be treasures for those who searched for them.

~

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

~

We found Hellebores and Crocus, early Daffodils and Hyacinths, Camellias and other flowering shrubs relaxing in the day’s brilliant sun.  A cool breeze off the water kept the garden visit brisk and brief.
~

February 29, 2016 early flowers 070

~

But it proved just what we needed on ‘Leap Day.’  We leapt into spring full of hope and optimism, though it still is very much winter here.
~
February 29, 2016 early flowers 012
~
And now it is Wednesday, already.  A very busy week for us, and no time to spend in our own garden before the cold settled back over us today.
No matter.  ‘To everything there is a season,’ we know.  There is time enough for every purpose under heaven…
~
February 29, 2016 early flowers 008
~

Photos by Woodland Gnome 2016

at Brent and Becky Heath’s display gardens

in Gloucester, Virginia

~
February 29, 2016 early flowers 071

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 654 other followers

Follow Forest Garden on WordPress.com
Order Classic Caladiums

This Month’s Posts

Topics of Interest