Plant it and they will come Monarchs and Pollinators

annapolis, MD(Zone 7b)

We came from here:

By now we all have seen some butterfly/pollinator activity in our yardening areas, but not in the hoped for amounts that set our hearts aflutter. By far Cabbage Whites have been prolific, one Monarch (!), and assorted others, many of whom will not stay still long enough for an ID let alone a pic!

With most things blooming or about to, what are you seeing on what? Any particular plants 'butterfly magnets'?

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annapolis, MD(Zone 7b)

Well I just spent a fun time catching and releasing the Black Swallowtails that eclosed this morning between 8 and 10 am. I broughtthem in last nite because of predicted heavy rains and didn't put them into any 'container; intending to put them out again today. After doing a few garden related things outdoors, I came in to my cat playing with oneon the floor. Sadly it did not survive. Then I put cat in bathroom and began to hunt for the other 5. One had not emerged and it is outside. Found the other four and released them outside where they promptly flew off into the wild blue yonder! Go well little ones.

Catmint, yours should follow shortly, another kind of Independence Day!

Silver Spring, MD(Zone 7a)

Coleup, I've been watching my cocoon closely, hoping he will eclose soon. Hope I am home to witness it!!

So far, I'd say the biggest pollinator magnets in my garden are the 'May Night' salvia (just like last year), plus the yarrow (all of them), and the 'Purple Haze' agastache.

Vienna, VA(Zone 7a)

Ha ha, that's funny coleup. I didn't think they started flying so soon after eclosing. I thought their wings took quite a while to dry.

Silver Spring, MD(Zone 7a)

Sorry to hear that the cat got one! :-(

Silver Spring, MD(Zone 7a)

So, how do I know when the butterfly is about ready to eclose? And what do I do to prepare for that event??

Here he is as of just a few minutes ago.

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Silver Spring, MD(Zone 7a)

I wanted to add, in terms of magnet pollinators in my garden: the monarda fistulosa and the cosmos. When it was in bloom, also the penstemon.

Vienna, VA(Zone 7a)

The bumblebees' favorite so far is Scutellaria incana (Downy Skullcap). My big Salvia 'Black and Blue' plants aren't blooming yet; when they do, they'll probably be covered with bumblebees.

annapolis, MD(Zone 7b)

I believe the BST chrysalis will darken considerably as it is semi transparent and the BST inside will show thru (This is true of Monarchs, too.)

Can't tell from your pic, but the emerger needs about 2 inches all around to pump up and spread wings and let harden. Might want to move it pre emergence to a wider venue!

I'd also say that temps arond 70 - 75 get most butterflies moving and emerging.

Muddy, it does happen quite fast, Pumping up and hardening of wings is one of most vulnerable times of all.

Hop e the five I released find each other and mate as I have seen only one BST and that was two weeks ago now

Some one on a radio show I caught parts of said that maybe this year is another "Silent Spring' but this time with insects.

Silver Spring, MD(Zone 7a)

Coleup that is interesting about the 'Silent Spring' comment. Can you say more about what was said?

Baltimore, MD(Zone 7a)


Other than the one i saw really earlier (next day it was gone--birds?)
I have not seen any caterpillars on my Parsley or Dill. And--I planted so many!
Last year I had SO MANY!!!

My 10 plants of Dill is getting really picked over--as I have made lot of pickles.
Almost thinking of planting a second crop. There's time yet--right?


Vienna, VA(Zone 7a)

I've seen cabbage whites, but that's it.
The bees were most appreciative when I planted blooming Liatris spicata today!

Silver Spring, MD(Zone 7a)

Muddy, I'll bet! My liatris is beginning to open now and I can already see the bees hovering around the tips, hoping for a nice snack! :-)

Lots of Whites out yesterday here. Saw one Dainty Sulphur and a few skippers--first sighting of a skipper in a few weeks. Hope they multiply again.

It's interesting--the pollinators decidedly *do not* like the 2--not sure what the term would be--'highly bred'?-- echinacea cultivars I have--the 'Raspberry Truffle' and the 'Secret Affair'. Both plants put out gorgeous blossoms and the Secret Affair is wonderfully fragrant, but over and over yesterday I saw a pollinator stop briefly at one of the blooms, seem dissatisfied, then fly over to the cosmos blooms right next to them and linger there. I think these new cultivars just don't offer them what they're looking for--whether it's the nectar itself or a good platform for sipping it.

I'm *definitely* growing cosmos again next year--the pollinators particularly like the dark pink Cosmos bipinnatus. They've been less enthusiastic about the Cosmos sulphureus. Definitely a pollinator magnet.

And the wild bergamot (Monarda fistulosa)--talk about bee heaven! It particularly attracts the huge carpenter & bumble bees, and you can just see them burying themselves in, like Sally said 'nom nom nom'... :-)

Silver Spring, MD(Zone 7a)

Saw either a fritillary or a checkered flutter through multiple times. Couldn't get a photo of it unfortunately.

Then saw a small brown butterfly and a skipper on my lavender and was able to get a photo of them. yay, lavender!!

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Baltimore, MD(Zone 7a)

As I while away with my watering all the tables of blooming plants--
today, I could not stop being amazed at the number of bees sucking stuff
out of all the Speedwel' blooms and the Gailardia' (sp?) as well....

We were all working in very close harmony--me watering--and bees on all the blooms.
Some would freak out--but none have ever gotten aggressive with me.
"BE--and LET BE"....

These bees were not pollen gatherers (Honey bees) as they had no
pollen sacks on their hind legs. --but sure looked like them.

If I had my camera, I could have, easily, taken some nice macros.


Silver Spring, MD(Zone 7a)

I just saw my first monarch butterfly of the season! It feels really late in the season to be seeing my first one.

Still no swallowtail caterpillars anywhere that I can find.

Silver Spring, MD(Zone 7a)

SSG that is so cool about the monarch! It's nice you were able to provide him with a good buffet. :-)

Today, I saw lots of Skippers, the usual Whites, a couple Sulphurs, and a couple Hairstreaks. These seem to be the most common butterflies in my yard so far this summer. I have also seen a few Painted Ladies and Spring/Summer Azures, the one Tiger Swallowtail, what I think was a Fritillary, and a couple others that were too far away to identify--just knew they weren't one of the more common ones in my yard. Fingers crossed that more will flutter through before the season ends.

My BST cocoon is darkening--I hope this is a sign that he will emerge soon!

Edited to add: I've also seen a couple brown butterflies, which I suspect are Elfins of one sort or another.

This message was edited Jul 8, 2014 4:58 PM

Silver Spring, MD(Zone 7a)

Oh, and my milkweed is about to bloom! The soil so hard in this area that I think the milkweeds might be stunted. They're all less than 2 feet tall! I still have no caterpillars chomping on them, though.

Oh, I forgot to add that I'm not seeing as many different varieties as you, Catmint. I may need to consult a butterfly ID page...

This message was edited Jul 8, 2014 6:04 PM

Silver Spring, MD(Zone 7a)

SSG, I'm definitely noticing more as I'm learning more! But there are so many similarities--e.g., the Variegated Fritillary v. the Silvery Checkerspot, or a Gray Hairstreak v. a Spring Azure, particularly when they are either fluttering through the air 15' away, or resting on a flower with wings closed 6' away. I wish I could watch them flutter around with someone who is experienced at butterfly ID, just to get a better sense of what to look for.

Silver Spring, MD(Zone 7a)

My BST emerged this morning--so exciting! :-)

I knew he was getting close and was hovering around, fussing about a larger container for him to move around in, when all of a sudden, the top of the chrysalis split open, and there was his head! I picked up the small stick he was on and stepped outside and placed the stick next to a leaf on one of my salvias. His little insect legs were emerging by then and he grabbed onto the salvia leaf and pulled himself out of the chrysalis and onto the leaf. He's been resting there happily ever since, moving around a little. Then I felt a few raindrops and put an umbrella over the plant--LOL! :-)

One pic is of the empty chrysalis. In one pic you can see him still all crumpled looking right after he emerged. Based on the yellow dots at the end of his wings, he appears to be male!! :-)

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Silver Spring, MD(Zone 7a)

okay, just have to share this pic of him under the umbrella! :-)

Thanks to Grandma Coleup for taking my 'It's a boy!' phonecall at 6:45 this morning! :-)

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Silver Spring, MD(Zone 7a)

Well, my butterfly has flown off now! :-( I got to enjoy him for about 4 hours.

Here he is flexing his wings about an hour before take-off. Wish they'd hang around after emerging, but I guess they have places to go and things to see-- not to mention a mate to find.

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Odenton, MD(Zone 7b)

That is really cool Catmint! Thanks for sharing the pictures and the joy.

Chevy Chase, MD(Zone 7a)

Did you notice this event at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens 9750 Meadowlark Gardens Court Vienna, VA 22182 T: 703-255-3631?

UP-UP AND AWAY: Attracting Pollinators to Your Garden

08/09/2014 10:00 AM to 08/09/2014 11:00 AM

Cost: Free with paid admission to the Gardens

Reservation Required: Yes
Tour the Butterfly and Pollinators Gardens with Tammy Burke, Senior Horticulturist, and learn about amazing pollinators and how to create a garden for them to enjoy. Meet in the Visitor Center. Free with paid admission to the Garden. Contact Meadowlark Botanical Gardens: 703-255-3631 - or- [email protected]

Silver Spring, MD(Zone 7a)

Thanks Happy that looks like it might be fun! I wonder what level it will be pitched at--whether it will be very basic or for those who already have some knowledge/ experience?

Vienna, VA(Zone 7a)

CatMint, congratulations! That must have been so exciting.

Happy, thanks for pointing that out. I think I'll go - Meadowlark is minutes from my house so it would be very easy. As a matter of fact, I'll email them right now!

Silver Spring, MD(Zone 7a)

Muddy, I'm very tempted to join you!! :-)

Vienna, VA(Zone 7a)

Good! I don't know whether you've been there before, but it's a good place to get all sorts of gardening ideas. For example, they also have shade gardens.

Silver Spring, MD(Zone 7a)

Muddy, I've never been there before--will be fun to see together! I went ahead and signed up. Looking forward to it! :-)

Lucketts, VA(Zone 7a)

Some pollinators I photographed yesterday:

1. Flower Long-horn Beetle on Mt. Mint

2. Potter Wasp and Sweat Bee (lower right) on Mt. Mint

3. Different species Sweat Bees on Mt. Mint

4. Bumble Bee on Monarda

5. Different species Bumble Bee on Liatris

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Silver Spring, MD(Zone 7a)

David what great photos! Love to see all those happy pollinators! :-) I get a lot of large carpenters plus others I can't identity. I'll have to get some photos-- would appreciate your help learning to identity them better!

Vienna, VA(Zone 7a)

I've never seen a Flower Long-horn beetle or Potter Wasp before; they're pretty neat looking! I don't think I'd like to have a close encounter with that wasp, though.

Lucketts, VA(Zone 7a)

Muddy, most wasps and bees are solitary and don't have nests or hives that they defend. Such species tend to be quite docile and don't sting unless you have them in hand. Even bumble bees, which form small colonies, are surprisingly tame. Once, while moving a brush pile, I uncovered a bumble bee nest. I used a shovel, picked up the comb, and moved it to a new, sheltered location. The bees remained on the comb and never posed a threat to me.

Vienna, VA(Zone 7a)

I found a bumble bee nest in a bird house last summer when I opened it to see if it needed to be cleaned. I closed it in a hurry! The odd thing was that when I opened it again this spring, there was no sign that a nest had ever been there. I couldn't figure out what happened to it.

Silver Spring, MD(Zone 7a)

That's something I've really enjoyed this past year is learning more about how nonaggressive most bee & wasp species are. There is this stereotype in the media about them as uniformly dangerous and at this point I think it is yet another factor contributing to the over-use of pesticides--oh, a bee, I have to kill it! oh no, wasps--get out the spray! News stories in the summer that don't mention pollinators except to focus on their potential for causing stings. Movies in which characters die from stings after disturbing a honey bee hive or yellow jacket nest. It would be nice if the media tried to educate people rather than simply scare them.

Baltimore, MD(Zone 7a)

As I water the perennials on the table--there are loads of bumblebees
sipping away on Speedwell, salvias, and other nectar plants.

We co-exist nicely---I let them be--and they let me be....

Silver Spring, MD(Zone 7a)

Occasionally I'll get a grumpy buzz from one like 'hey, I was sipping at that flower and you just moved it!', but generally we get along fine!

Two of my bee house holes are plugged now with waxy stuff, so I guess a couple bee mamas decided to use it for their eggs.

Vienna, VA(Zone 7a)

Carpenter bees usually drill holes in my mailbox post but, this year, I haven't seen them or the sawdust that lands on the plants underneath.

Silver Spring, MD(Zone 7a)

I always get a fair number of carpenter bees. I'm not entirely sure where they nest in my yard--I should take a look around.

Vienna, VA(Zone 7a)

Here's a great article explaining where and how they build their nests:

Unfortunately, they can be very destructive if they decide to bore nest holes in your eaves or other wooden parts of your house. We had to get all wood surfaces covered in vinyl to stop them.

Look for sawdust or purple stains on windowsills, the ground, siding, etc. Then look up to see if there is a hole.

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