A Mid-Migration Snack


While late October’s Maximilian sunflowers clearly appealed to the Gulf fritillary butterflies I featured in a recent post, the migrating monarchs in the same Brazoria County field seemed to prefer the flowers of Salvia azurea, commonly known as blue sage or pitcher sage.

Whether they found the salvia’s nectar more to their taste or simply enjoyed the extra wing-room the plants offered is hard to say, but seeing two beautiful butterfly species feasting on two equally beautiful plants delighted me.


Comments always are welcome.


Summer’s For Sharing

A pair of great spangled fritillaries (Speyeria cybele) atop a yellow coneflower (Echinacea paradoxa) at Burr Oak Woods conservation area, Blue Springs, Missouri

Echinacea paradoxa, commonly known as yellow coneflower, is the only species in the genus Echinacea to have yellow flowers rather than purple, pink, or lavender: hence, the “paradox” suggested by its name. The genus name is rooted in the Greek word for hedgehog or sea-urchin, echinos; it refers to the spiny center cone which these butterflies are enjoying.

Found primarily in glades and prairies of the Ozark regions of Missouri and Arkansas, its large, daisy-like flowers bloom from June to mid-July, although flowers may appear throughout the summer. This eager little bloom had appeared by May 27, which no doubt delighted the butterflies.


Comments always are welcome.


Pollinators Plain and Fancy

It’s National Pollinator Awareness Week — a time to celebrate all of the bees, butterflies, beetles, bats, and bugs that contribute so much to our gardens and our tables.

While the Monarchs may be stars of the show (along with their equally flashy companions, the Queens and the Viceroys) there are multitudes of other pollinators that deserve to be noticed. Some are beautiful; others are quite plain. Some we can’t help but notice; a few seem reluctant to be seen at all. Nevertheless, all have a role to play in our world, and all have something to teach us.

Here are three delightful butterflies I recently found at the Brazoria Wildlife Refuge. They’re just a token of what’s waiting to be seen, if we take the time to look.

Salt Marsh Skipper (Panoquina panoquin) on twisted-leaf goldenrod (Solidago tortifolia)
Black swallowtail  (Papilio polyxenes) on Texas vervain (verbena halei)
Possibly a common checkered skipper ~ Pyrgus communis


Comments always are welcome.