With the increased moth activity mentioned last week, there also has been a surge in butterfly activity after the recent rains. In my neighborhood here near Phoenix, we have seen representatives of almost every butterfly family.
Because it is missing its hind wing, this one is hard to identify, but I believe it is a pipevine swallowtail.
Whites and Sulphurs
Sulphurs are really easy to spot right now.
We have several fluttering in our yard at any one time, given away by their bright yellow wings.
Orange sulphurs aka alfalfa butterflies are particularly common. Some of the females are quite pale. Right now often seen flitting across six lanes of traffic.
The tiny dainty sulphurs are so cute. This one is visiting a desert marigold.
Hairstreaks, Blues and Coppers
This tiny blue is also adorable. It posed while taking a snack from a milkweed flower.
Hairstreaks grab your attention by wriggling those antennae-like structures on their hind wings. The milkweed flowers are popular places to drink nectar.
We saw a few American snout butterflies, but not as many as in the past (previous post).
The queens are back.
They have laid eggs for the next generation on the rush milkweed.
Last, but not least, the skippers with their uniquely folded wings.
The only family of butterflies not currently represented are the metalmarks.
What butterflies have you found in your neighborhood this month?
Reading children’s books is great way to learn more about pollinators. Afterwards, do some of the activities suggested below.
But first, what is pollination and what is a pollinator?
Pollination is an essential process that allows plants to grow healthy fruit and seeds. Scientifically, pollination occurs when pollen (the colorful powdery dust) is moved from male part (anther) of a flower to the female part (stigma) of the same or another flower.
A pollinator carries the pollen from flower to flower so that pollination happens. Although when we hear the word “pollinator” we generally think of bees, many different animals act as pollinators.
In No Monkeys, No Chocolate by Melissa Stewart, Allen Young, and illustrated by Nicole Wong young readers learn that cacao trees need the help of a menagerie of rain forest critters to survive: a pollen-sucking midge (previous post), an aphid-munching anole lizard, and brain-eating coffin fly maggots. Reviewed at Wrapped in Foil.
In Flower Talk: How Plants Use Color to Communicate by Sara Levine and illustrated by Masha D’yans a snarky purple cactus narrator explains why plants “talk” to animals via their flowers and how they entice the animals to carry their pollen from place to place.
POLLEN: Darwin’s 130-Year Prediction by Darcy Pattison and illustrated by Peter Willis reveals how long it may take for science to find an answer to a problem. In 1862, naturalist Charles Darwin received a box of orchids. When he saw one of the flowers, the Madagascar star orchid, he wondered how insects could pollinate it, and he made some predictions that it was a moth.
Fast forward 130 years. In 1992, German entomologist, Lutz Thilo Wasserthal, Ph.D. traveled to Madagascar. By then, the moths were rare. He managed to capture two moths and released them in a cage with the orchid. Would they pollinate the orchid as Darwin had predicted?
Although it is more about who and what eats flies, 13 Ways to Eat a Fly by Sue Heavenrich and illustrated by David Clark features some flies that pollinate plants (previous review).
A Place for Butterflies by Melissa Stewart and illustrated by Higgins Bond showcases twelve North American butterflies―from the familiar eastern tiger swallowtail to the rare Palos Verdes blue butterfly―and the ecosystems that support their survival.
A Place for Bats by Melissa Stewart and illustrated by Higgins Bond features twelve types of North American bats, from the familiar little brown bat to the Mexican free-tailed bat.
Check the Pollinator Week resources page for bee identification guides, puzzles, posters, instructions for building a bee house, and more.
Disclosure: One of the books mentioned above was provided by the publisher. The rest were from the library or are my personal copies. I am an affiliate with Amazon so I can provide you with cover images and links to more information about books and products. As you probably are aware, if you click through the highlighted title link and purchase a product, I will receive a very small commission, at no extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.
In the past I’ve posted an end of the year list of my favorite photographs. This year let’s mix it up with a matching quiz. Can you match the adult insect with its immature stage or something associated with it? If you want to, leave your results in the comments. Bonus points for correct identifications. Note: Not all letters have been used. All the photos are from 2020.
A. She’s a big-eyed beauty on a stick.
B. This mimic may fool you because it resembles another popular insect.
C. Often seen visiting flowers.
D. Flies away to the mountains in the summer.
K. The hardest of all, although the answer is here in the blog.
Now match the adults with their life stages or products.