Friday, August 10, 2012

Hot wheels and butterflies

Butterflies are covering the flowers in the new wheel garden and I'm enjoying them each morning before it gets too hot.  The wheel garden was intended to turn an eyesore into eye candy with plants that can take the full-sun heat of August here in San Antonio.  It's a bonus that these heat and drought tolerant plants are also popular with butterflies.

Queen butterflies (Danaus gillippus) particularly like the blue mistflower (Conoclinium greggii).


They prefer the spent, slightly dried blooms of the mistflower so I'll hold off trimming these back for fall bloom.


Yesterday I found this Queen Butterfly caterpillar on the tropical milkweed.   I was planning to attract monarchs but there may not be any milkweed left when the monarchs begin their migration through here in a few weeks.


Queen Butterflies look a bit like their monarch cousins though they are smaller and lack the distinctive "stained glass" pattern on the wings.


Gulf Fritillaries go for the 'Fireworks' gomphrena


And the Mexican Bird of Paradise (Caesalpinia pulcherrima) is popular as well


The colors of the garden also provide great color camoflage for butterflies.  Look closely above the gomphrena and you can just see them against the green trees flitting above the flowers in the center.  (Click on the photo to enlarge.)


While researching this post I discovered the excellent Texas Butterfly Ranch blog which I highly recommend if you would like more detailed information on attracting butterflies in Central and South Texas.

30 comments:

  1. Now, I need to ID my butterflies. You and Chris in Tucson have taught me quite a bit on queens vs. monarchs. Well-put, Ms. San Antonio..."eyesore into eye-candy"!

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    1. It's fun to focus on just having a garden after so much work installing it.

      The difference from neglected spot to destination is pretty dramatic.

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  2. Oh, what a lovely new garden and such beautiful butterflies. And you've convinced me: I'm getting Fireworks gomphrena next year. Best to you and all these gorgeous friends.

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    1. Thank you Linda.

      Fireworks has been outstanding in this heat and 'Strawberry Fields' gomphrena just visible on the left is a winner too.

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  3. What gorgeous butterflies you have in Texas! Thanks for sharing them with us! I never tire of seeing them - they're like flowers that flit all over the garden!

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    1. Flitting flowers, I like that. They make the garden alive with movement.

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  4. Wonderful selection of plants to attract the butterflies. I didn't think I had any cats on my Milkweed until I read the Queens lay their eggs on the under side of the leaf. Now I discovered I have cats! Love the Texas Butterfly Ranch Blog. Your garden is lovely.

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    1. This milkweed didn't have any leaves left for them to hide in. Not a one. I have made some cuttings to try to get a few leaves for the monarchs now and will look for more plants when out shopping.

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  5. Lovely garden! I like that Gomphrena too. We've had lots of Queens here in Austin as well. Last week, I had a Monarch in my garden-early! Really early. Haven't seen him/her since though.

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    1. A Monarch already! I'll keep looking. The Queens left some milkweed on the other side of the garden.

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  6. This time of year is amazing!!! September could be your biggest month yet! It's been hot over here full of butterflies. I thin it's due to high humidity levels which encourage lots of activity.

    The post I had today on the orange bell esperanza is a great plant for your area. Hummers, butterflies.....and GREEN! But in winter, it will die back to the ground because I think it will be cooler in your area. Love your shots! Exciting stuff:)

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    1. I have the yellow esperanza and your post has inspired me to go looking for the orange one and find a place for it. I think it would look good with the Mexican Bird of Paradise.

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  7. I haven't seen any of the Queens here. I'll have to keep a better eye out for them.
    Your wheel garden is looking good.

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  8. Are these all in your garden? Wow, you must be thrilled! I love the added pleasure of butterflies in the garden. Right now I'm trying to hunt down blue mistflower since it is one of their favorites here in Houston. :0) David

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    1. It's fun to get out and watch them until the heat chases me inside. I found mistflower at The Antique Rose Emporium and I would think Buchanan's might have it too.

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  9. I love seeing butterflies in the garden. They add color and movement and it simply makes me happy to provide for the creatures around my home.

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    1. I'm learning more about the butterflies and the plants they need for different stages.

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  10. I'm going to be looking for Queens in my garden now! Wonderful photos!

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    1. They are all so special and your beautiful garden should attract many butterflies.

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  11. You muse be doing something right to have attracted so many butterflies. Great photos! I will have to check out Texas Butterfly Ranch. We're looking to increase our butterfly host and nectar plants over the next few years.

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    1. Adding host plants seems to have been the big draw although we have had lots of gulf fritillaries on the flowers before.

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  12. Lovely photos of the butterflies. I really struggle to take photos of ours, they move too quickly.

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    1. It's really about taking a lot of photos and not waiting for the butterfly to move first. Digital cameras make this possible. If the butterfly is in the frame click away even if nothing is happening because you can't keep up with their moves. Most of my photos are deleted because they are fuzzy or have nothing in them.

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  13. Great photos!! I don't see the Queens here very often but have already seen a few Monarchs. They usually arrive here in late summer. Your butterfly garden looks wonderful! :o)

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    1. Thank you! You're quite a bit north of us so we have a few weeks to monarch season yet.

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  14. Replies
    1. It is so interesting to see how different parts of the world look.

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  15. Nice captures. I photographed quite a few queens when I visited the San Antonio Botanical Gardens in 2011. I know they really like the tropical milkweed.

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    1. I will try to find more of the tropical milkweed while I'm out today. It's almost a grocery item with all these butterflies after it.

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