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?
When I visited the yard this morning to take photographs for this post, first I checked to see what was flowering. Flowers are great places to find insects.
The little leaf cordia (Cordiaparviflolia) attracted my eye. It was covered with clusters of white blossoms.
The flowers were beautiful, but nothing was visiting them. In contrast, the plant next to it was humming and buzzing.
That’s the wolfberry, Lycium species. It isn’t much to look at from a human perspective.
From an insect’s perspective, however, it was an open grocery store.
The honey bees and digger bees were lining up to sip nectar.
Smaller bees were wrapped around the anthers harvesting pollen.
When it was done, the underside of this one’s abdomen was white with pollen.
Snout butterflies visited the flowers, too. They are drab when sitting like this.
Numerous flower flies and a few wasps flitted around. This flower or hover fly has a really big head compared to the rest of its body.
From the street (top photograph) the wolfberry bush looks like a small cluster of brownish branches on the left between the bright green Texas sage on the bottom left and the little leaf cordia. If you didn’t know the wolfberry was there, you wouldn’t even see it. Just the same, it provides food for hundreds of insects which in turn pollinate our gardens and serve as food for wildlife.
I hope I can continue to convince our homeowner’s association that it deserves to stay.