Butterflies in my Backyard

Butterflies are taking over my backyard and I couldn’t be happier!!

My oldest daughter and I have been noticing butterflies lately.  Here is a list of the ones we’ve seen recently just in the back yard.

  • White Peacock (my photo)

    White Peacock at CREW

  • Long-Tailed Skipper (photo from bugguide.net)


  • Monk Skipper (bugguide.net)

                                       

  • Polydamas Swallowtail  (bugguide.net)


  • Giant Swallowtail (bugguide.net)

                           

                    

Giant Swallowtail caterpillar on my Key Lime tree – looks like bird poop (my photo)
  • Orange Sulphur (bugguide.net)


  • Monarch (my photo)

    This is me with a monarch that we hatched from a chrysalis we found in the yard.

  • Queen (my photo)

    Queen butterfly at CREW

Our yard is ruled over by my husband, whom we call The Accidental Gardener.   He loves to mow and trim and grow things, and I’ve finally converted him to a native species proponent, so he’s working on converting our “landscaping” to all southwest Florida native species.  This is challenging because exotics are often very pretty and abundant and, once planted, tend to take over, thus garnering the title “invasive”.

We call him The Accidental Gardener because he’s cheap and doesn’t like to buy plants, so he tends more to discover and nurture in place things that “volunteer” in our yard. For example, right now, instead of planning a landscape island in the front yard, deciding what to plant, ripping out what’s there, preparing the soil, buying the new plants, agonizing over placement, digging the holes, planting the new plants, watering and pampering the new babies and maintaining them in perpetuity, he happened to find some cabbage palm (we think) seedlings coming up about where he thought might be nice some day, so he’s marked them and is avoiding them with the mower. This will be the new landscape island.

A few years ago, I talked him into letting some “weeds” called beggarticks grow because I had heard a naturalist refer to the flowers as “butterfly Viagra”.  Interestingly, as we let them go, they spread, but not invasively (they are native), and now they are just sprinkled in with the rest of the plants that grow along the back fence.

One of the plants in our yard that seems to attract the most butterflies is a really nasty invasive exotic, Mexican petunia.  It is closely related to a native, but it is so indestructible that it sends runners out into the grass and becomes part of the lawn.  It produces a pretty purple flower and brings all these butterflies, but we have drawn the line.  We are going native.  Such aliens will not be tolerated, no matter how attractive they may be – like “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”, these beauties may look like their native cousins, but on the inside, they’re really just trying to take over the world for their own planet. We are ripping them out by the roots.

(florida.plantatlas.usf.edu)
 

We just realized that one of the “weeds” comprising some of the natural groundcover we call a lawn is the host plant for a very striking green and brown butterfly called a Malachite, so we’re going to try to convince my husband to stop mowing over it and let it grow high enough to produce flowers to try to attract them. Unfortunately, it is also considered non-native.  Maybe we’ll keep it for just a little while…

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