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For the Love of Insects

| 11/6/2018 10:20:00 AM

Butterflies and moths

Most of us can agree that butterflies are lovely and peaceful to watch on a warm summer day as they flit from one flower to the next. Many of them have colors that would excite any artist’s palette. Butterflies, specifically Monarchs, have even recently invaded the news as progenitors to the dangers of climate change. Pretty things dying in great numbers help grab attention. They are however just the tip of the iceberg, so to speak. 

When was the last time you sat in a garden and saw more than Monarchs? Sure, they’re easy to spot with their dramatic color and designs but there are many more flutterbys (as a niece used to call them) than Monarchs. Some are quite understated, others have such subtle differences you need to count the dots to know which one you have photographed.

I admit to being one of those people who mostly saw Monarchs and Swallowtails. In fact, this is the first year that I can remember seeing such diversity in my garden. I saw more than I could photograph—the little ones can be so fast and some of them much prefer the safety of a closed-wing resting position to one that advertises where it has landed. I’m already looking forward to next season when I can more patiently wait for better identification photos of my fritillaries and Cloudless Sulphurs—I won’t forget the moths! But that’s a whole other story.

Did you know that caterpillars overwinter in dead leaves? This is one of the best reasons not to remove or burn leaves once they’ve fallen. When I do anything with my leaves —which is rare these days—I tend to gently rake them to the beds next to where they’ve fallen. I’ve also become more particular in which “weed” trees I remove. You can bet I’ll leave more of my hackberry volunteers now that I’ve identified Emperors in my garden.

There are over 20,000 different types of bees worldwide, with up to 4,000 living in the US. As with butterflies, most of us think of only one or two types—honey bees and bumble bees. If pressed, you might come up with borer bees, sweat bees, or digress into hornets, wasps, and yellow jackets with a loathsome grimace on your face.

Insect Collection

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