The Beauty of Butterflies

As the sun sinks lower on the southern horizon his rays do not provide the same intensity of heat as on summer days.

These fragile creatures search for the last of summer flowers to rest and feast upon.

To watch them glide on invisible currents  my heart aches for what is to come.

 

Common checkered-skipper Pygus communis
Common checkered-skipper Pygus communis

“This species is separated from the White-checkered skipper with confidence only by dissection and examination of the male genitalia.” from butterfliesandmoths.org

 

Female Clouded Sulphur Colias philodice
Female Clouded Sulphur Colias philodice

Halloween Surprise – Milbert’s Tortoise Shell Butterfly

Temperature fluctuations have encouraged creatures not normally seen in the gardens of Valley View to stop and  share the garden’s mid-autumn bounty.

One such creature  new to the gardens is the Milbert’s Tortoise Shell butterfly, (Nymphalis nilberti)

Milbert's Tortoise Shell butterfly, Nymphalis nilberti
Milbert’s Tortoise Shell butterfly, (Nymphalis nilberti)

This butterfly lives in wet meadows and swampy edges of deciduous forests.  It can be found coast to coast in Canada and the northern United States, in mountains south to West Virginia.  It can be spotted on warm winter days, spring and summer. *

Milbert's Tortoise Shell butterfly, Nymphalis nilberti

October 31st was a relatively warm day.  We’ve had a few killing frosts so the only flowers still in bloom are mums and Alyssum. Nectar feeding insects frequent these flowers. Also the gardens are at the edge of an Eastern Broadleaf forest, with a spring seep directly across from the gardens. A perfect day and perfect habitat for this butterfly to appear!

Green Fly and Spotted Cucumber Beetle
Green Fly and Spotted Cucumber Beetle on yellow daisy mum

*from National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Insects and Spiders

 

The Butterfly and the Liatris 

Tiger Swallowtail on Liatris

Mornings offer a quiet, peaceful time of day. The creatures of the garden are awakening and beginning their search for food. Upon finding an appropriate banquet they settle in and begin to feast. 

Lazy Days of Summer

The stillness that once was

Pampas grass crumpling under the weight of the snow
Pampas grass crumpling under the weight of the snow

Is nothing more than a memory

Early March snow storm
Early March snow storm

Gaia’s children join in the chorus honoring their mother

Song Sparrow
Song Sparrow

 The coldness that permeated every cell

Early March 2015 snow storm

 Has now been replaced by sun-baked warmth

Great Spangled Fritillary drinking nectar from self-seeded echinacea plants
Great Spangled Fritillary drinking nectar from self-seeded Echinacea plants

Gaia’s removed her white blanket of winter and put on her summer party dress

Asiatic lilies
Asiatic lilies
Self-seeded viola after a rain shower
Self-seeded viola after a rain shower
Echinacea - White cone flower
Echinacea – White cone flower
Terraced garden behind home
Terraced garden behind home
Mullein flowers growing in front of barn
Mullein flowers growing in front of barn
Drum stick allium
Drum stick Allium

Flowers – A Different Perspective

While walking gardens paths

One by one

Drumstick Allium and Oriental Lily Bud
Drumstick Allium and Oriental Lily Bud

They come into view

Lavender, New Guinea Impatiens and Lobelia
Lavender, New Guinea Impatiens and Lobelia

Tall and stately

Mullein Flowers Verbascum thapsus
Mullein Flowers
Verbascum thapsus

Hidden under leaves

Cucumber Blossoms
Cucumber Blossoms

Mandala from beneath

Cone Flower - Echinacea
Cone Flower blossom

Or feeding venues from above

Cone Flower - Echinacea and the Great Spangled Fritillary
Echinacea and the Great Spangled Fritillary

 

Caterpillars-Contemplating Their Transformative Nature

IT’S COLD OUTSIDE!

I live in eastern Pennsylvania and like millions of others along the eastern coast of the United States we are in a deep freeze. The sun is shining through the skylight but the warmth is deceiving. Just tried to drive to a local winery, the back roads were drifted over thanks to wind gusts of up to 40 miles an hour. I need a warm weather connection! So enjoy with me one of the most transformative creatures – caterpillars!

All the beauties you see here have called the gardens their home before transforming and flying away…

Black swallowtail caterpillar on dill
Black Swallowtail caterpillar on dill plant
Evergreen Bagworm moth caterpillar
Evergreen Bagworm moth caterpillar
Variegated Fritillary Caterpillar
Variegated Fritillary Caterpillar
Silver-spotted Skipper Caterpillars on Harry Lauder Walking Stick
Silver-spotted Skipper caterpillars on Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick
White marked Tussock moth caterpillar
White-marked Tussock moth caterpillar
Milkweed Tiger Moth Caterpillars
Milkweed Tiger Moth Caterpillars
Saddleback Moth Caterpillar
Saddleback moth caterpillar next to acorn caps
Tussock Moth Caterpillar 2
Tussock moth caterpillar
Saddleback Caterpillar
Juvenile Saddleback caterpillars on native Spicebush
Woolly Bear Caterpillar
Wooly Bear caterpillar
Monarch Caterpillar
Monarch caterpillar
Pale Tussock moth caterpillar
Pale Tussock moth caterpillar
Butternut Wooly Moth Caterpillar
Butternut Wooly moth caterpillar