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Arizona's seasons are often out of sync, especially in the Sonoran Desert. When everyone else is shutting down and getting ready for fall and winter, our wildlife is gearing up. A few weeks ago, we featured some insect eggs. Now we have caterpillars and chrysalids galore.

queen-caterpillar-small

Take this larva of a queen butterfly resting on a rush milkweed. It is taking advantage of the new growth the plants are putting out after recent rains.

queen-chrysalis-003Some of the faster developing larvae have already transformed into chrysalids. They will soon be adult queen butterflies.

skipper-on-cordiaThe skipper butterflies have already reached adulthood and are ready to lay eggs again.

Check out this post by Margarethe Brummermann who says there were 28 species of butterflies (as well as other insects) in Madera Canyon this week. She also posted an amazing video on Flickr.

 What insects did you see this week?

1

This morning when I dropped my son off for class, I noticed this small landscape shrub was flowering.

dalea-at-EVIT027It is a Dalea sp. (likely Dalea frutescens) that I had noticed previously, so I made a mental note to bring my camera and come back 10 minutes early to take a photo of the flowers.

Dalea-flower-close-up-0089

When I showed up 10 minutes early, this is what I found visiting this small plant:

Butterflies:

white-skipper-on-dalea-0161. A white checkered skipper butterfly, with lovely hooks at the ends of its antennae

hairstreak-on-dalea-best-0522. A delicate gray hairstreak butterfly

Reakirts-blue-butterfly-on-dalea-1673. Reakirt's blue butterfly, which appeared to be ovipositing

Bees:

green-sweat-bee-0051. A green sweat bee (Halictidae)

sweat-bee-on-dalea-010 Another shot of the same kind of bee

bee-on-dalea-face-on-shot-0642. A digger bee with a creamy yellow thorax

bee-in-flower0973. A small black and white bee

flying-bee-0071Those were incredibly fast and I have a lot of shots of them flying to another flower.

honey-bee-_01034. Honey bees were also represented.

I also saw a Polistes paper wasp.

So, let's recap. In approximately 10 minutes I was able to find three species of butterflies, at least four different kinds of bees, and a wasp visiting this one small plant that barely came up past my knee. Not only was there a great diversity of insects, but also a good quantity of bees. There was a constant stream of insects visiting flowers all over the plant, not just one or two here and there.

Dalea sp. plants are listed as larval food plants for Reakirt's blues and southern dogface butterflies, making them a fabulous choice for butterfly and pollinator gardens.

Sometimes, just planting the right plant can make all the difference if you want to attract wildlife.

Do Dalea sp. grow where you live? What kind and what do you see visiting them?

One great thing about living in Phoenix is that you can still see butterflies in November.

Who is this enjoying nectar from a lantana flower?

Why, it's a skipper!

Don't skippers hold their wings in an interesting way? The forewings are over the back like a butterfly, and hindwings are down like a moth. Maybe that is one reason people think they are butterflies that are closely related to moths.

The larvae often feed on grasses. Many build themselves shelters by tying the leaf blades together with silk, like this one.


Have you ever seen a skipper larva?