Tag: snout butterflies

What We See, What They See

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 (Cordia parviflolia) 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.

Bug of the Week: What is In the Yard

What sort of insect activity did the recent rains and high humidity bring out?

slender-bee-fly-geron1. A slender bee fly, genus Geron

moth-with-spots2. A brightly-marked moth, out in full daylight

snout-butterfly3. Yay, the snout butterflies are back!

Fall is the time when we usually have a lot of caterpillars. We’ll have to see if this is a good year for them.


Bug of the Week: Fall Butterflies and the Plants that Feed Them

Generally we don’t think of butterflies and fall going together, but there are butterflies active in the fall. To tank up for fall migrations, and to get ready for overwintering, these butterflies use late-blooming flowers for nectar.

This week we had a surprising number of butterflies visiting our willow acacia tree, which is in full blossom.

The powder-puff flowers of the willow acacia might not look like much, but they must have nectar because the bees are also visiting them in droves. The tree fairly hums on warm days.

The painted ladies were migrating through. One week you won’t see any, the next week they are everywhere.

Painted ladies also visit the lantana flowers, another good source of nectar for butterflies.

Not as noticeable, but just as numerous on the willow acacia are the snout butterflies. This butterfly’s pointed “snout” is almost as long as its antennae. Notice how camouflaged it is when it has its wings closed.

The giant swallowtails are constantly on the move. It is hard to get a photograph of one. They visit our citrus trees, which are food for the caterpillars.

We also saw a monarch butterfly in the willow acacia this week, also moving too much to be recorded. The monarchs are known for their long migrations this time of year.

We tend to have these skippers throughout most of the year. They use lantana as well.

We also saw queen butterflies. The last queen butterfly to emerge from our milkweed vine was smaller than the rest. It still enjoyed our asters.

It was interesting that these asters were blooming when we visited New England in October, and our Arizona asters were in full bloom when we got back home. Asters are also important sources of nectar for honey bees.

Of course, goldenrod is another common fall flower that is a good source of nectar. Once ignored as a weed, there are now cultivated varieties for the garden.

If you would like to put in a fall butterfly garden,  the Brooklyn Botanical Garden has some suggested plants.

Have you seen any butterflies this week?