Sennas, Tithonia & Zinnias: Setting the Table

Cloudless sulphur butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow at "Butterflies and Blooms in the Briar Patch," Eatonton, GA

So many are now sharing that they’ve seen few butterflies here in Georgia this year. It’s the end of June 2019, and we’re now fully into 2 years for our almost all natives garden in central Georgia.

Our 2 big patches of mountain mint are surely nourishing all bees for a 5 miles radius, or so it seems. Our Clethra is about to open, our Obedient Plant opened yesterday and our Big bed of Monarda was a hit with lots of bees and several swallowtails.

Our Giant Zinnias are throwing big flowers these last few days, and our Tithonia (Mexican Sunflower) grows swiftly, now 3 feet tall, some headed to 7′ – 8′ tall. The Tithonia are not native, but they excel at supporting and nourishing many butterfly species, are easy to grow, thrive in drought, are gorgeous, and well summon the large butterflies from afar, very afar.

We’ve had good numbers of Buckeye, Gray Hairstreaks, Snouts, Silver-Spotted Skippers, Checkered Skippers, Monarchs in April and a variety of Skippers. As for the rest, I share Virginia’s positive expectations, that they will show up soon, and in good numbers. Most or all of them.

We’ve looked around central Georgia for Senna, with no success these last 2 years. Senna is the hostplant for these Cloudless Sulphurs, as the one you see here, seen in our Eatonton, GA garden.

My Vegas prediction, butterflies galore, as July fades to August and September produce butterfly jackpots!

Jeff

The Wait for Butterflyweed

Large Clump of Butterflyweed photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park, PA

My grandson and I reveled in one of the world’s finest stands of Butterflyweed this past June. I revisited Doak field in Raccoon Creek State Park with him, and I told him how much I loved those 2 weeks or so each year when the Asclepias (milkweed) was in bloom. More than that, I told him how this was the first time that one of my grandchildren ever, ever joined me in the field, of how Happy!!! I was to be with him there, then.

Eureka! We found the most luxurious clumps of Butterflyweed that I’ve ever seen, anywhere, let along Doak field in southwestern Pennsylvania. We were there early, very early, and now the wait. We waited for that time, usually around 9 A.M. when the butterflies sense these spectacular blooms, sense that those flowers are set to pump nectar, sugary nectar to support their athletic flight.

We we wait, and wait, and now it was 10 A.M. and few butterflies appeared. 10:45 A.M. arrived, and this is usually the time when no butterflies return to these deep orange flowers. The numbers for those hours? Disappointing.

We discussed how such things cannot be predicted, as this was surely a good example of lush bloom with good history, yielding scant swallowtails, monarchs, fritillaries or skippers. I must share that the usual suspects, Silver -spotted skippers, could be counted on one hand.

My take away? What I know is I must wait to next year, 2019, and hope to again see Coral hairstreaks here, on Butterflyweed.

My grandson, all of 7 years old, understood that day, that flora and fauna cannot be comfortably predicted, that a lesson in and of itself.

Jeff

Canada Lily and Dividend

Canada Lily and Tiny Darner photographed by Jeff Zablow at Akeley Swamp, NY

Late June 2018 and we’re at Akeley Swamp in southwestern New York State. You know what I was looking for. Butterflies. Along with that, there is always, always the possibility of comely wildflowers. The eyes don’t stop scanning, from minute one to back to the car (rental) time.

Was Asclepias syriaca, Common Milkweed in bloom? Yes. There were hundreds of flowerheads along the swamp trail, bearing hundreds of thousands of flowers. Few butterflies flew, that a disappointment.

One of the big Yippees! that morning was the discovery of Canada Lilies in fresh bloom. I tell you, you stood and stared at their stark rich red, and did so for several moments. What a sweet pleasure, that table set amidst the sea of green around it.

I liked this bloom especially, and as we, my Canon with its IS Macro- lens closed in on this one, look what I found!

Immature? An adult? Species? All I thought of was get this shot Jeff, for it’d be one fine post on wingedbeauty.com.

Do I have a crew of darner photographers to ID? I don’t think so, do I?

Jeff