Blue, Too

While the monarch butterfly I discovered sipping nectar atop a fading blue sage was lovely, the flower itself deserves a second look. Blue sage (Salvia azurea), a tall, vibrant prairie plant, pleases the human eye as surely as it attracts pollinators.

The monarch, it seemed, wasn’t alone in being attracted to the flowers. A  bend atop a still-fresh spike of flowers revealed threads of silk attached at several points along the stem. While monarchs and fritillaries stopped and sipped at nearly every blue sage, I never saw a butterfly approach this flower-laden stalk. Perhaps they saw the silk, assumed a spider, and chose to avoid the complications they might present.


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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.


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Just Looking

Bumblebee  (Bombus sonorus) “just looking” into a crossvine flower (Bignonia capreolata)

Whenever our family gathered at my grandparents’ home, my father always made a beeline for Grandma’s pantry.  Roomy and spacious, it never lacked for good things, including homemade cookies. Occasionally, Grandma would ask, “What do you want?” “Nothing,” he’d say. “I’m just looking.”

“Busy as a bee” is a common metaphor, but sometimes “browsing like a bee” works, too. What my father would think of being compared to a bumblebee I’m not certain, but in this case, I suspect he’d recognize the behavior.


Comments always are welcome.