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Butterflies at Raincatcher’s Garden, Fall 2018

Where have all the butterflies gone? We enjoyed so many this fall in our garden.

Monarch butterfly sipping nectar from Tithonia, Mexican Sunflower.

Cloudless Sulphur butterfly on a canna in our color wheel.

Queen butterfly alight Lantana, Miss Huff.

American Snout on an Okra blossom.

By late November, most butterflies have bred and died. Their  offspring  overwinter in egg, larva, or chrysalis form until next spring.

 Some adult butterflies have gone farther south and some overwinter in Dallas as adults.  Monarch migration is perhaps the most well knows but also  the Painted Lady, Common Buckeye, American Lady, Red Admiral, Cloudless Sulphur, Skipper, Sachem, Question Mark, Clouded Skipper, Fiery Skipper and Mourning Cloak  migrate to warmer regions.
Ann Lamb
Pictures by Starla Willis. Thank you, Starla!

Fascinating news from the Native Plant Society-click to read their newsletter.

Sunny Yellow Flowers For Fall Beauty From Raincatcher’s

Our yellow flower tour starts as the cheerful yellow daisy like flowers of zexmenia welcomes visitors to the garden.  It is hard to go wrong with this native plant. Zexmenia asks little beyond a sunny spot with a bit of room to spread.  Butterflies and bees are frequent visitors to the lasting display of clear yellow flowers.

Zexmenia

One need not go far to see the bees enjoying the fuzzy round blooms of the golden lead ball tree. This small tree, native to Texas, has been blooming for months.  The flowers are a bit out of the ordinary and always attract attention.

Fall is the time for the tall yellow cosmos to shine. It is true the tall plants may fall over in wind and rain and it can be over ambitious in seeding itself.  But, no plant is perfect and isn’t it a happy sight? It is well worth overlooking a few things—and bees and butterflies really do love it.

The fast growing well adapted argentine senna is literally covered in lovely yellow flowers.  Some sennas bloom for a short time and seed out to an alarming degree. This one doesn’t. The flowers last for a long time and seeding is not a problem.  If that isn’t enough to make it a favorite—it is also a host plant for those pretty yellow sulfur butterflies.

This yellow rose is part of the trials to try and find plants that resist rose rosette disease.  Let’s all think positive for this little plant with flowers in such a delicate shade of yellow.

Esperanza cannot be left out of any list of favorite yellow flowers.  This plant was almost given up for lost in the Spring—what a come back it seems to have more bright yellow flowers than it has leaves.

Don’t forget that vegetables can be as pretty as they are delicious.  This yellow okra flower is a perfect example.

If your garden could use a little sparkle or if you want to do more to provide the nectar pollinators need to live,  add some , or all, of these lovely yellow and you will do both.

You can see all of these plants at Raincatcher’s garden at Midway Hills Christian Church.  Garden work is on Tuesday mornings and you are always welcome.

Susan Thornbury

Pictures by Starla Willis

 

Butterfly In My Garden

Around April 5, I caught a glimpse of a butterfly in my garden and ran out to get a closer look. I really couldn’t miss it since it had a wingspan of over 5 inches. It fluttered about my garden rue and then took off over the fence. I didn’t see any eggs just then but a week later there were tiny specks that might be larvae! By April 19, there were four “orange dog” caterpillars of the Eastern Giant Swallowtail, Papilio cresphontes. They look like bird droppings to deter predators.

Caterpillar On Rue

I have grown Ruta graveolens since becoming a Dallas County Master Gardener in 2006 and love its blue-green foliage and tiny yellow flowers. Along with various trees it is a host plant of the beautiful Giant Swallowtail larvae. The adults visit my garden every year but these are the first caterpillars I have seen. Photographing the adults is challenging as they are always in motion, fluttering away as they feed.

Then last fall I noticed this mating pair on my Loropetalum bush right at eye level. These are distinctive from the Eastern Black Swallowtail adult in that the and the row of large yellow spots on the dorsal (top) side meet in the middle of the wing rather than near the bottom and the ventral view is mainly yellow.

Eastern Giant Swallowtail Butterflies Mating

As of May 2, the four caterpillars have grown to over 2 inches and should pupate soon. The chrysalis stage is variable but usually takes 10–12 days. I hope to photograph at least one chrysalis and adult as it emerges. With luck they will return to my garden rue to produce another generation in the fall. Bugguide.net states they overwinter as a chrysalis.

Two Caterpillars!

Caterpillar Hosts: Trees and herbs of the citrus family (Rutaceae) including Citrus species, prickly ash (Zanthoxylum americanum), hop tree (Ptelea trifoliata), and Common Rue (Ruta graveolens).

Adult Food: Nectar from lantana, azalea, bougainvilla, bouncing Bet, dame’s rocket, goldenrod, Japanese honeysuckle, and swamp milkweed. Here’s one feeding on clammyweed last summer.

 

Eastern Giant Swallowtail on Clammy Weed

Grow Common Rue and you might have these interesting and beautiful garden visitors!

Susan Swinson

 

Have you ever seen a butterfly laying an egg?

Thanks to our own intrepid photographer, Starla, for capturing a rare picture of a butterfly laying an egg.

Black swallowtail butterfly laying an egg on fennel

And here’s the egg-

Look for the creamy yellow egg located on the lower right of the picture

*Eggs are laid singly on the host plants—usually on new foliage and occasionally on flowers. Development time is variable depending on temperature and host plant species, but generally the egg stage lasts four to nine days, the larval stage 10–30 days, and the pupal stage nine to 18 days.

Fascinating!

Ann Lamb

Picture by Starla Willis

*http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/bfly/bfly2/eastern_black_swallowtail.htm

Study up on our butterfly garden by looking at the right hand side of the front page of Dallas Garden Buzz under Raincatcher’s Resources for a list of hummingbird and butterfly plants or type butterfly in our search box for a host of articles on butterflies.

 

Porterweed

How often do you get an entertainment package with a nectar source?

Blue Porterweed, Stachytarpheta jamaicensis

Blue Porterweed, Stachytarpheta jamaicensis

My husband has mentioned several times how entertaining the Porter weed is which can be seen through our den windows. We have watched hummingbirds, butterflies, and bees drinking from it.

Now we must say goodbye and hope that it returns from its roots next year. Proper mulch has been applied.

Porterweed comes in several colors and be careful because the names and growth habits will switch according to species or cultivar.

Raincatcher’s has Coral Porterweed, Stachytarpheta mutabilis, in our courtyard garden and Lavender Porterweed Stachytarpheta mutabilis var. violacea in our butterfly garden.

Coral Porterweed, Stachytarpheta mutabilis

Coral Porterweed, Stachytarpheta mutabilis

Make a note to look for this favorite nectar source at the Texas Discovery Garden spring plant sale in 2017.

In the meantime, Porterweed, we are going to miss you!

Ann

Hope you read yesterday’s freeze information yesterday and for further info click here.

Note: I have seen Porterweed spelled as two words and one word.

 

 

That Doesn’t Look Like Milkweed!

The milkweed section of the April Texas Discovery Garden plant sale is not for the faint of heart. Once the gate is opened, you’ve just got to get in there—elbows flying—and grab.

Turns out, this year we purchased an interloper that hitched a ride to the Raincatcher’s Garden with the native Rose, Common, Green, Green-flowered and Antelope Horns milkweed.  And this milkweed has been turning heads.

The green pods of African Milkweed

The green pods of African Milkweed

African milkweed Asclepias physocarpa or Gomphocarpus physocarpa was a mild mannered herbaceous plant with tiny white star-shaped flowers from August through September.  Then 3-inch pale green, round seedpods covered with soft hair-like spines appeared in October.  None of the Raincatcher’s volunteers had seen anything like it. The spiny pods will fade to red or brown and slowly split to release numerous oval seeds, each with a tuft of silky hairs to catch the wind.

Brown pods obviously

Brown pods with milkweed bug

African milkweed, which is also known as Balloon Plant, Swan Flower and Tennis Ball Plant, is an annual milkweed native to Africa. Its distinctive seedpods are often used in flower arrangements—or as conversation pieces in the Raincatcher’s Garden.

Elizabeth

Pictures by Starla

Texas Discovery Garden Plant Sale, November 4th  for members, November 5th for the public. Information here.

Globemallow

Globemallow Sphaeralcea ambigua

We didn’t think it would survive in Dallas. Much less bloom. Well, the Globemallow’s exquisite pink flowers triggered gardeners’ squeals—this is a passionate bunch!—last week at the Raincatcher’s Garden.

Globemallow

We planted Globemallow on a whim last year in the Butterfly/Hummingbird Garden. Most natives from the Big Bend region fail miserably in our dense clay, but this shrubby perennial will tolerate our soil and treat gardeners to “spectacular displays in wet years” according to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

The combination of purplish-pink 1” cup-shaped flowers and grayish-green scalloped leaves is a show stopper. The most common bloom color, however, is an apricot-orange suggestive of spring quince. If you prefer a color, you might be wise to purchase the plant in bloom.

Steer clear of stroking the leaves. The little hairs can irritate and sometimes cause an allergic reaction.

Plant Globemallow or Desert Mallow in full sun. It will become straggly in partial shade.  It is lovely with grasses or scattered throughout natural plantings.

Elizabeth

Picture courtesy of http://www.wildflower.org

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