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
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.