Monday, June 24, 2013

Butterflies in my Garden

Butterfly Weed Blossoms 

Butterfly Weed Flowers
One of my favorite things to do beside painting is to spend time in my garden.  Many years ago, I decided to devote my garden to helping the birds, butterflies, dragonflies, bees and other wee creatures procreate and survive.   One addition that I really wanted for my garden was Butterfly Weed.  I remembered it’s lovely orange blossoms from when I lived in Alabama.  I finally found a plant labeled Butterfly Weed at one of local nursery.  The tag showed the beautiful orange blossoms that I was excited to have in my garden.  I carefully tended it but it took many years before it started to bloom.  I was so disappointed to see these first blooms as they were not at all what I remembered from my childhood.   These were pale colored and the few butterflies that came to my garden totally ignored these plants. 
No butterflies on these flowers but the honey bees and ants like it.
Over the years the butterfly weed did what weeds know how to do best and that is to spread to various parts of my garden.  This year is a banner year for the blossoms.   Upon closer inspection I find that they are quite lovely and have a delicate sweet smell.  While trying to get some artsy photos of the blossoms, I was looking underneath the leaves to see if I could find butterfly eggs.  I found some little black spots that could have been a fleck of dirt.  I took photos of them so that I could enlarge them and get a better look.  Sure enough - they are butterfly eggs!  These are beautiful chocolate brown to black ovals with perfectly spaced grooves.  They look like tiny rocket ships ready for launch.  I search my books and went online but could not find any mention of black butterfly eggs so I wasn't sure what kind of butterflies they would turn into.  Everyday I check my eggs.  

Closeup of butterfly egg
Yesterday, I am so excited to share with you, I now have a tiny little caterpillar munching away on the butterfly weed. I can now identify the butterfly to be.  It is definitely a Swallowtail Butterfly!  It may even be the Oregon Swallowtail.  I hope it will survive and that I have more hatch.  I will keep you posted!

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