Butterfly Update! Including Monarchs from our Yard and Mexico butterfly photos

Butterfly Update! Including Monarchs from our Yard and Mexico butterfly photos

Here in Southern California in January, despite some temps dipping into the 20s, I’m still seeing monarch butterflies in our yard, helped by some of our milkweed that manages to stay alive. I posted an article in October about how our tropical milkweed finally attracted monarch caterpillars. I’m happy to report it continues to birth dozens of caterpillars and even some adults.

Outside, these caterpillars are making it on their own themselves.

These caterpillars are making it on their own in January.

Here are some photos from our yard, plus a few butterfly photos from a recent trip to Baja Mexico, along with a few things we’ve learned. [Read more…]

Weeds for Butterflies and More on our Native Pollinators

Weeds for Butterflies and More on our Native Pollinators

This is a follow-up to my post on Attracting Butterflies and Pollinators to our Yards – more takeaways from San Diego area speakers Moe Magoski and Michael Klein, plus photos of pollinators, important butterfly plants we might consider weeds, and some resources. [Read more…]

Attracting Pollinators and Butterflies to our Yards

Attracting Pollinators and Butterflies to our Yards

Who doesn’t want more butterflies in their yards? You need nectar plants of course. But if you want to watch all the butterfly stages — which means your plant’s leaves will get eaten by the growing caterpillars — you need to include specific host plants, such as milkweed for monarchs, or thistle or mallow for Painted Ladies.

But you also need to watch your use of pesticides. Oh, and keep some weeds around.

These were among the important takeaways of the forum “Where have all the Butterflies and Bees Gone? How to Protect our Butterflies and Pollinators,” [Read more…]

Pollinator killing plants: questions to ask nurseries

Pollinator killing plants: questions to ask nurseries

I’ve been besieged with a lot of email petitions recently about  a pesticide called neonicotinoids (neonics for short), found in some plants sold by nurseries, which has been shown to kill bees, butterflies and other pollinators – so the word is definitely out. When pollinators visit the flowers or caterpillars eat the leaves of the pre-treated plant, they die. There’s a concern to humans too, as herbs also are being sprayed (see example below).  So what can we do? I received info from the Northwest Center for Alternatives to Pesticides (NCAP) in Seattle WA, regarding questions people should ask their nurseries.

[Read more…]

Now’s the time to see butterflies – and what’s better than a ‘puddle party’

Now’s the time to see butterflies – and what’s better than a ‘puddle party’

I was up camping in the San Bernardino Mountains this weekend and one joy was coming across a muddling area, next to the stream my friend Christine and I were camping near. It was lush with butterflies — also called a puddle party. For those who don’t know, a muddle is a mud puddle, or in this case it looked more like a couple circular areas of moist, fine gravel that were several feet across. I sat for about 45 minutes and enjoyed the parade of butterflies as they gathered nutrients the muddle provided, and buzzed each other. Butterflies weren’t the only ones. Various insects and bees alighted too, and the butterflies occasionally harassed a train of harvester ants, making them pick up their pace. (See photos below)

[Read more…]

Butterflies: Plants to attract them, and concerns

Butterflies: Plants to attract them, and concerns

It’s nearing October and I’m still seeing some butterflies around – a few Western Tiger Swallowtails although they’re much fewer, some Cabbage Whites and a variety of those little orange ones that I’ve given up identifying. I checked in with a couple butterfly aficionados on what plants were ushering in the butterflies during the late summer months. [Read more…]

Bugs! and Other Photos from Our Yard

Bugs! and Other Photos from Our Yard

Our yard is alive with wildlife this spring, so thought I would post some photos of the critters and a few native plants they’re especially attracted to. The insects attract a host of larger insects and in the chain of life, they in turn attract a rich bird and lizard population that feeds on them all. The last photo I took was of a Cooper’s hawk hoping to feed on one of those birds. [Read more…]