A Gardening Year

The adventures and misadventures of an heirloom gardener

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Strange and Wonderful Sightings

Ah, the Dog Days of Summer. Sunny, hot, no rain. I've gotten into a rhythm when I get home from work. First, I feed the cat. He's quite insistent on this point, assuring me that he is on the brink of starvation. Only then am I allowed to go out and play in my gardens. I deadhead, collect seeds, pull up the most egregious weeds and take pictures. After I put the seeds in their appropriate containers and the camera by the computer for later download, I go back outside and water. I've seen some strange and wonderful things going on in the gardens. Here are a few of them.

A Heavenly Blue morning glory with purple edges.

A speckled balsam flower. Hmmm . . . sounds like a Sherlock Holmes mystery!

The most strange and wonderful thing I've seen so far wasn't a flower. I was dive-bombed while watering my hydrangeas in front of my house. It was too large to be a hummingbird and too small to be a bat. It settled in the hydrangeas and I was able to get a look at it. It was the largest moth I have ever seen. Eventually it flew away in the direction of the backyard. When I finished watering, I got my camera and went looking for it. I found it on the Aztec sunflowers.

This is a polyphemus moth. They have wingspans of 4.5" to 5.5" (11.5 cm to 14.0 cm). Most surprisingly, they are nocturnal. This one was flying around at 10:15 AM.

The Aztec sunflowers have been attracting a lot of visitors:

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

Spicebush Swallowtail

I'm not sure what kind of butterfly this is. All of the orange ones look alike to me and I wasn't able to get a good picture because he was opening and closing his wings too quickly. I keep hoping he will come back so I can try again.

I'm thrilled that the Aztec sunflowers have been attracting so many butterflies. As much as I love my butterfly bush, I have since discovered that it is considered invasive here in New Jersey and people are being discouraged from planting them. I'm glad to have other flowers that attract butterflies since I won't be planting any more butterfly bushes.


At 11:26 PM, Blogger crazygramma said...

What wonderful shots of the butterflys. I am never with camera or phone out in the yard due to the fact I have ruined a few with water. LOL Also I am amazed at your knowledge of flowers and critters and such.

At 12:30 AM, Blogger OldRoses said...

I've learned to keep a camera close at hand when I am outside. If I am watering, I sometimes will leave it on the porch which is well away from the hose.

Thanks for the compliment but I have to admit that most of my "knowledge" comes from research. The internet has been a godsend for me. I can look up anything.

At 7:58 PM, Blogger Sandy said...

Pretty butterflies!

At 2:40 PM, Blogger Sylvana said...

The last butterfly I am almost certain is a monarch. It doesn't look like the counterfeit.

My butterflies are to flighty for pictures. Maybe I just need more practice sneaking up on them.


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