Saturday, August 15, 2009

Monarchs Arrive

Despite falling over the Meadow Liatris, L. ligulistylis, is still getting attention. I had a Monarch Butterfly on the plant for over 2 hours. Quite a feat considering only a few of the flowers are open.

Here a bee flew to close and the Monarch thwacked it with his wing.

If you look carefully though you can see they eventually got along. There's even a honey bee sipping at the flowers. Male Monarchs have two dark spots on the rear wings. These are special glands that attract females.

The beauty of this Liatris is how late it blooms. The other common Liatris I have so much of, I bought at Home Depot, actually blooms in June. This is great for bees but to early for migratory butterflies. The flowers to this Liatris are more complicated and bigger too. I think I'll focus more on these late flowering Liatris.

Only one or two of these flowers open each day. They last maybe a week then fade. What follows is almost a re-blooming but this time of furry seeds. Goldfinches enjoy these seeds as well, but as I've said before, sunflowers are the best for them.

A poorly cropped shot to give you an idea of how small a first instar (stage of larval growth) Monarch caterpillar is. It's on the seed pod to a Milkweed plant, and no bigger than the pin sized egg it hatched from.