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tom123_gw

Butterflies are all around now.

4 years ago
last modified: 4 years ago

If I had a conscience I'd feel bad about posting this now, because I know that those of you up north either haven't seen any yet or are just starting to.

Anyway, I've had Monarchs year round now. We had no freeze and not even a frost here in Central Florida. The Sulfurs have been around for about a month or so. About three weeks ago I saw the first Giant. Then a couple of weeks ago the first Zebra Longwings and the first Polydamas. Today I saw the first Gulf Frit. I still haven't seen a Tiger, or black swallowtail or a few others. Hopefully they will be showing up soon.

It looks like it's going to be a great butterfly season. I have ten Mexican sunflowers that have started growing. Eight of them are in a hamster cage, and two others are separate cages that I will eventually use when they get bigger. As you can guess, I have a rabbit problem. They love the tithonia leaves.

I'm sure that most of you are getting excited with the warm weather. Getting out in the garden is one thing we can do while we are staying home and staying safe.

Let us know here how your gardens are progressing.

Comments (29)

  • 4 years ago

    Oh how wonderful, Tom. In our neighbor, we are an oasis of no pesticide gardening. I hope we continue to get butterflies etc., but everyone else has companies that spray on a regular basis. Breaks my heart.

    My hostas are coming out and dogwoods are starting to bloom. Azaleas are about to pop (several already in full bloom). It was chilly today, but this will be a great time to get out and really whip those weeds and get everything looking good. Fingers crossed.

    No rabbits here-foxes and a coyote or two have probably done them in along with the feral cats we used to have in the woods.

    Thanks for your lovely post!

    Tom thanked cyn427 NoVaZone7
  • 4 years ago

    That is wonderful to hear! A couple more months and we'll be seeing them up here :0)

  • 4 years ago

    That's great news, Tom! I agree that it's going to be a banner butterfly year.

    I have monarchs, giants, white peacocks, orange-barred sulphurs and Gulf Frits year round. But, since I finished my new butterfly garden a week ago (until I get more plants that I can't live without) I've been seeing Polydamas and zebra longwings too. Haven't seen an Eastern black yet.

    I already have 3 orange-barred and 2 monarch chrysalis in the enclosure and more cats in there too. Just found 10 teeny Polydamas cats today and moved them in the enclosure as well.

    Can't wait to see what the next few months bring 😁

  • 4 years ago

    Wow. Sounds like you are going great guns, Rhonda. Congratulations.


    Florida is, I think, the best state in the Continental US for butterflies and the further south one goes the more butterflies one sees.


    Seen any hummingbirds yet? I have two or three now. I'm thinking they will stick around for a while. I've already seen the mating dance of the male. Could be seeing some young ones in a month or so.

  • 4 years ago

    You may be right about the butterflies and southern states. Although in a very mild climate, I am further north than 99.9% of the rest of the US :-) And we do not see all that many different types of butterflies and not until much later in the season. And there is a lot in my garden that would attract them!

    OTOH, I do have hummingbirds.....and year round! Very quiet right now as this is nesting time but I would expect to see activity ramping up in the coming weeks as the weather warms and the fledglings start venturing out.

    Refilling the feeders is on my to-do list today!

  • 4 years ago

    Thanks Tom! Butterflies galore but no hummers. Just too far South. I see them for a day or two when they're migrating but that's it. I think the Tampa/Orlando line is about the southern border for them to stay. I really miss them.

  • 4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    Tom, hummingbirds have been here with little or no seasonal pause.

    The "dance", is it a repeated long linear zoom, as though on a huge pendulum?

    Sleepy Orange butterfly at end of January. Rarely see any, in any season.

    And the never more than once in any year Red Admiral.

  • 4 years ago

    The mating dance is a U shaped pendulum, swinging back and forth. The bottom of the U is normally nearest the female. At times, though, hummingbirds will do the dance to establish territorial dominance.


    I think I have at least three hummers now. I can go out into the garden almost anytime and either see or hear one. I had a male today feeding on Schumannii cupheas that came within three feet of me. He just ignored me and kept feeding. Hummingbirds don't seem to notice anything if it doesn't move. Whenever they get near me I just stand still and they ignore me.


    A rainy day today. Saw hummers but no butterflies.


    I see a lot of Sulphurs because of the Casias that I have. I see red admirals off and on, but mostly in the spring. Like you, Four, I think I have only seen one this year so far.

  • 4 years ago

    Still no hummingbird here. They should be close. Last year was not a good one for them in my yard. Did see a black swallowtail today, I am ready for them. The sulphurs not so much. The sicklepots still don’t even have their first true leaves but have eggs from the cloudless and orange.


    Have to add that other than some trees and weeds, there is not much blooming here to feed them.

  • 2 months ago

    @Tom, spring 2024, butterflies active in your yard?

  • 2 months ago

    I've seen a lot of red admirals here in MI over the past couple weeks.


    I'm not sure exactly what it was I saw yesterday passing over the deck other than it was some sort of small, pale blue moth/butterfly -- karner blue maybe? I've never seen one IRL, so I'm not sure, and it quickly flew by, so I I'll never know if it was one or not.

  • 2 months ago
    last modified: 2 months ago

    Today I saw a several yellow butterflies (cloudless sulphurs?) a cabbage white, a giant, some fritillaries and many monarchs and zebra longwings. In the past several weeks I've seen a few polydamas and a tiger. A black swallowtail visited and left some eggs on my green fennel---but I didn't see it. I have also seen red admirals and skippers, but not many. What has me worried is the scarcity of hummingbirds. Normally at this time I would have two or three that I would see frequently. I have only seen one hummer in the past three weeks. I'm wondering if this is just me or a more general phenomenon here in Central Florida.

  • 2 months ago
    last modified: 2 months ago

    Red Throat(s) daily here, Tom.

  • 2 months ago
    last modified: 2 months ago

    >"Today I saw... a cabbage white" ___ Last week I saw a white of some kind. Not an every year occurrence, and never on more than one day. Saw one last year also. Last year and this, I have grown large amounts of Virginia Pepperweed and kept it continuously. Last week's visitor was male, as indicated by continuous fast exploratory flying without attention to plants of any kind. Saw it three times that day.

    Three weeks ago a Spicebush ST, two weeks ago another . Unlike the strings of frequent visitation that run for two or more weeks, occurring a few times per year.

  • 2 months ago
    last modified: 2 months ago

    I had an American Lady laying eggs on my Pussytoes, Antennaria neglecta. There are several native thistle vollunteers for the Ladies too this year. There were 2 Cabbage Whites frollicking yesterday. Hopefully they can use the numerous Shepard's Purses or Purple Rocket, Iodanthus pinnatifidus as hostplants, and not the newly germinated Peritoma/Cleome serrulata, Rocky Mountain Bee Plant. Monarch cats love to eat young milkweed seedlings. After several years of searching for Ascelepias nivea, including learning German, my only 2 priceless Carribean Milkweed plants were comepletely eaten to the ground. There are many native Verbena here, so I never attemptedto grow Porterweed. Many native Fabaceae also, so no need to grow exotic Sennas. The exotic Senna with special ant nectaries are fun to observe though. I usually get Silver Spotted Skippers that use My Prairie Potatoes, Apios americana, and Hog Peanut, Amphicarpaea bracteata. As always, there are nettles for the Red Admirals. Urtica dioica, Stinging Nettle Urtica gracilis, Tall Nettle, Laportea canadensis, Wood Nettle, Pilea pumila, Clearweed and Pennsylvania Pellitory, Parietaria pensylvanica and Boehmeria cylindrica, False Nettle. I've been growing Passiflora lutea for a couple years, wondering if the local Fritillaries might use it, but the local Frits seem to prefer using violets for host plants. I saw the 1st Common Milkweed shoot today. They seem to be nomadic in my beds. I've been growing a white flowered Asclepias syriaca for the past couple years. I sure hope it blooms this year. They were given to me by a dear friend less than 2 weeks before she passed away. Jennifer was a great butterfly warrior and the sweetest, kindest soul I've ever known. These white milkweeds are special. Jennifer and Miss Sherry were cast from the same mold.

  • 2 months ago
    last modified: 2 months ago

    >"Passiflora... Fritillaries" ___ I have had the cultivar Lady Margaret for many years ; have great mounds of it. Neither of the Heliconians ever laid eggs on it. When I placed caterpillars on it, they ate very little, and always would find the other passiflora if any was near. You can imagine my continuing amazement all this year (2024) at the heavy occupation by Gulf Fritillary caterpillars, and the vast amount of shredded Lady M.

    Related surprise this morning, a Monarch adult drinking for minutes from three Lady M. flowers. You see, never had butterflies given the slightest attention to the flowers of either species, except for very rare brief drinks by Gulf Fs.

    >"Passiflora lutea... local Frits seem to prefer using violets for host" ___ By an article writer : "All fourteen of the Greater Fritillaries depend entirely on violets as their host plant." www.brendaclem.com/our-native-violets-host-plants-to-fritillaries/

  • 2 months ago

    Four, a lot of people in the south get gulf frits that devour their passionflowers. Monarchs will land on strange plants so they can consume strange compounds the plants contain. That's why it's important that all garden plants are safe for them to land on. I really wasn't expecting any frits would eat my Passiflora lutea. It's still quite young and has only bloomed for the past 2 years. I grew maypop in a raised bed years ago, and the plant bloomed the 1st year after recieving it, but it only sent up suckers that never bloomed the following years. I believe that was because I had it in a raised bed. A garden friend close by grows it succesfully in the ground. Not sure it's a good idea to grow another agressive vine, when I still haven't got the honeyvine and wooly pipevine, (that sucker everywhere) under control? I want to grow Smilax too. I think I need professional help, with my agressive vine obsession/ self sabotage.😂🤣


  • 2 months ago

    I can identify with your "aggressive" problem, Jay. I think it tends to be much worse here in Florida since they can and do grow year round. I have four, what I call, garden thugs. One I like ---*Cuphea Schumannii. One I put up with---Cape Honeysuckle. One that the butterflies and hummingbirds like, but wants to take over everything--dwarf firebush (Hamilia Patens.) And finally one that drives me crazy---Mexican Flame vine.


  • 2 months ago
    last modified: 2 months ago

    Mexican Flame Vines are rampant, I let them "ramper". Tops of tall trees acquire bright bouffants which Monarchs visit.

    My dwarf Hamelias never expand, as in making shoots. As for height, I keep them at 5' - 6'. They have had to regrow from base because of freezes. Yours are so large that freezes affect them less. Also they have much protective coverage.

  • 2 months ago

    @mxk3 z5b_MI "I've seen a lot of red admirals here in MI over the past couple weeks." That's been my experience as well, which seems highly unusual this early in the year and must be related to the very mild winter. The small blue butterfly you saw was likely a Spring Azure, I've noticed a few in the last couple days around the stands of gray dogwood in my yard. Photo below from this afternoon (4/30/24)

    Jay and four, "All fourteen of the Greater Fritillaries depend entirely on violets as their host plant". But as the article that four posted also notes, the Variegated Fritillary (one of the Lesser Fritillaries) "also eats violet leaves but will eat other things as well such as passionflower." So Jay, you may get Variegated Fritillaries visiting your Passiflora.

  • 2 months ago

    Thanks for the info Dave! I don't think my Passiflora lutea is bent on conquering the world like incarnata is. That's a good thing, but I may be shocked later? I'm going to pass on growing maypop for now. My Lonicera flava is blooming for the 1st time, and I want to grow Lonicera dioica too. I just discovered a native Smilax that germinated from tossed seeds, and I want to grow that too. Also Apios priceana and Cupani's Original Sweet Pea, and the native Lathyrus venosum. I grow Lonicera semervirens also. I'm still searching for the native fly honeysuckle Lonicera canadensis. Might even settle for oblongifolia, but only briefly. They are Hummingbird Moth hostplants, along with Diervilla lonicera and Symphoricarpos albus and orbiculatus, which I'm also growing. My love for native honeysuckles is fueled by my loathing of the invasive ones.

  • 2 months ago

    Jay, you grow so many kinds! (and more than those mentioned here, of course). I do not know most of those mentioned here; are all /most of them for butterflies?

  • 2 months ago

    I saw a Monarch today, a small one. Problem is milkweed isn't up yet where I am, so she'll have nowhere to lay her eggs if it's a she.

  • 2 months ago
    last modified: 2 months ago

    Four, most of my plants are for butterflies, either as host plants or pollinator plants. A couple groups like ferns and mosses aren't. I have a few milkweed species for Monarchs and Gypsy Moths. A. syriaca, purpurascens, sullivantii, viridis, viridiflora, quadrifolia, engelmanii, verticillata, subverticillata, exaltata, stenophylla, fascicularis and speciosa. The native white butterflies and sulphers are almost gone around here, but I still grow the legumes that are their hostplants, and some skippers and other leps feed on legumes also. The legumes I grow are Lespedeza capitata, Lespedeza violacea, Astragaus canadensis, Baptisia australis, Baptisia tinctoria, Baptisia bracteata, Baptisia alba, Dalea purpurea, Dalea foliosa, Apios americana, Apios priceana, Amorpha canescens, Amorpha fruticosa, Amorpha nana, Lathyrus venosum, Lathyrus odorata 'Cupani'. Chamaecrista fasciculata, Senna hebecarpa, Acmispon americana, Amphicarpaea bracteata, Trifolium stoloniferum, Trifolium reflexum, Trifolium carolinianum, Desmanthus illinoensis, Desmodium canadensis, Pediomeum tenuiflorum, Thermopsis villosa, and Scrotalaria saggitata. The cudweed tribe of Asteraceae is the group that appeals to American Lady butterflies. Of those I grow Antennaria neglecta, Antennaria plantaginifolia, Anaphallis margaritacea and Pseudognaphalium obtusifolium. I've wanted to grow the weedy cudweeds. Gamochata pensylvanica, and Gamochaeta purpurea. It's been difficult trying to find the seeds for the 2 weedy species. I grow Wooly Pipevine, Isotrema/Aristolochia for the pipevine swallowtails. I've only seen a few leaves eaten, but there are so many leaves that the caterpillars can hide in? I grow Wild Ginger, Asarum canadense and Virginia Snakeroot, Endodeca/Aristolochia serpentaria var convolvulacea for the Pipevine Swallowtails too. I grow 2 species of native thistle for the American Lady butterflies too. Cirsium discolor, Prairie Thistle and Cirsium altissimum, Tall Thistle. I try to grow only the grasses and sedges that are butterfly host plants. The native legumes don't have ant nectaries, so the caterpillars are basically safe from ants. For Black Swallowtails I grow Golden Alexanders, Zizia aurea, Heart Leaved Golden Alexanders, Zizia aptera, Yellow Pimpernel, Taenidia integgerima, Honewort, Cryprotaenia canadensis,Rue, Ruta gravolens, Swamp Parsley, Sium sauve, Sweet Cicely, Osmorhiza claytonii, Snow Parsley, Cnidium monieri, Orlaya, Sanicula canadensis. For the Giant Swallowtails I'm growing Hopstree, Ptelea trifoliata, and Rue. Rue is interesting in that Black Swallowtails will use it in place of Apiaceae species. For the Buckeyes, which sadly are so rare nowadays, I grow some Verbena species, V. hastata, simplex, bracteata, stricta, urticifolia, bonariensis, and Glandularia bipinnatifida. Also Plantago species for the Buckeyes. Plantago aristata, rugeli, wrightiana, virginica and unintentionally the weedy Plantago lanceolata and major. Im still searching for Plantago patagonica seeds. There are a million venders selling Plantago major seeds online, but a beautiful species like patagonica isn't offered. I've scattered thousands of Agalinis seeds around the beds, and not 1 seedling. Agalinis, False Foxglove is another buckeye host plant. Same thing with Linaria canadensis. I can't get the seeds to germinate. I should get some Pentas for the Tersa Sphinx Moth. The only other species in Rubiaceae that I grow is Buttonbush, Cephalanthus occidentalis. I've also been searching for seeds for the weeds Buttonweed, Diodia virginiana, and False Buttonweed, Spermacoce remota. I only have the Half-Truth Buttonweed Lol. Also in Rubiaceae and Tersa Sphinx Moth host plants. Buttonbush is one of the all time best pollinator plants.

  • 2 months ago
    last modified: 2 months ago

    mxk3, that is indeed early for a monarch to arrive in Michigan, but it has been an early spring this year, so maybe there will be a few milkweeds beginning to emerge. I saw a monarch on May 8 two years ago. Based on the small overwintering population, monarch numbers are expected to be down this year.

    Jay, that's an impressive list of butterfly food plants, you must have a lot of space! "I have a few milkweed species for Monarchs and Gypsy Moths"- do you mean the milkweed tussock moth rather than gypsy (spongy) moth? Have you ever grown one of the Matelea species? I was able to find Matelea decipiens from an online supplier, not sure if the monarchs will use it, we will see. Pipevine STs are uncommon here, but I've planted Aristolochia contorta (which should be somewhat less aggressive) to see if they might show up. There is wild ginger here, but I've heard that Pipevine STs do not use wild ginger as a food plant. There is plenty of prickly ash here for the Giant STs, and spicebush and sassafras for the Spicebush STs. I allow a couple patches of nettles to grow in my yard for the Red Admirals (see photo of 1st instar 5-2-24). I believe Painted Ladies will also use nettles as a food plant.


  • 2 months ago
    last modified: 2 months ago

    >"Gamochata purpurea... trying to find the seeds" ___ Should I send you seeds of the nearly equivalent G. antillana?

  • 2 months ago

    @mxk3 z5b_MI, in www.plantmaps.com/en/us/f/hz/state/michigan/plant-hardiness-zones we see that, as of 2023, the areas colored celeste remain in 5b. You in there?

  • 2 months ago

    "...the areas colored celeste remain in 5b. You in there?"


    Technically, no. Practically, yes due to microclimate. For now, anyway.