Monday, August 30, 2010

Sunday Surprise

I've been wondering weather or not the Monarchs are back from up north and laying eggs in the butterfly garden. Sunday 8-29 I went out to have a look. It seems that there is something special about Sunday afternoons in the garden. Many times I have spotted butterflies laying eggs out there on a quiet Sunday afternoon. The best time appears to be around 3pm. It has to be sunny or they won't come. Butterflies don't like cloudy days.This Sunday I was presented with a special treat. A big female monarch butterfly was fluttering right in front of me delicately laying eggs one by one on the milkweed. Please turn the volume off on your computer. The air conditioner was blowing and made quite a racket.

You can see the difference between male and female by the spots on their hind wings. Butterflies have four wings and the males have a black spot on each of their hind wings.Here are four plants you have to have in your butterfly garden.

Lantana:Lantana are nectar plants for the butterflies. That means that butterflies need them for food. I like really tall growing varieties because the butterflies prefer them. Butterflies get stressed when they fly too low to the ground. Perhaps they are concerned that children with butterfly nets will catch them! You can also find the low growing varieties of Lantana and hang them high in a hanging basket to attract the bashful butterflies.

The next plant you really need in your butterfly garden is the butterfly bush. They come in lots of colors. When the branch is finished blooming be sure to pinch off the dead flower and you will see lots more blooms. The butterfly bush is a nectar plant also.

If you want to get monarchs you really need some milkweed. Butterflies won't eat anything else; kind of like the children who ONLY eat macaroni and cheese... Milkweed are both nectar and host (butterflies lay their eggs on the leaves) plants for the monarchs.
Finally, I wouldn't have a garden without fennel.Around here in South Carolina the Eastern Black Swallowtail butterflies go absolutely hysterical for this plant. They sip the nectar and they lay eggs on the leaves (host and nectar plant). Take a look at the pictures I took yesterday of the Eastern Black Swallowtail egg I found on the fennel. I'm so glad I made it out to the garden Sunday.

Life is full of surprises and gifts to be grateful for :)


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