My front yard prairie is full of flowers. It is amazing how many flowers there are considering the heat and drought we endured this summer.
A wider view of the prairie shows the colorful flowers of Gayfeather, Mealycup Sage, Scarlet Sage, Four Nerve Daisy, Zexmenia and Pink Skullcap. All of these flowers provoked an invasion of winged insects. At the end of this post is a list of plants that you should not plant if you do not want a similar invasion.
The invaders: butterflies. For the last couple of weeks, my prairie has been filled with butterflies, especially Monarchs. I counted about 25 in the front prairie today. I am sure there were several more in the back prairie while I was counting.
They fly from flower to flower drinking nectar from plants like Frostweed.
This Monarch is feasting on the nectar of Gregg's Mistflower.
Several of the Monarchs paired off with plans of laying eggs to create more butterflies. Caterpillars will hatch from those eggs and eat all of the leaves on my milkweed. I have not seen Monarch caterpillars yet, but I did find notice my pipevine was being consumed by Pipevine Swallowtail caterpillars.
Monarchs are not the only butterflies to invade the prairie. Closely related Queen butterflies have a taste for Gregg's Mistflower as well.
A Common Buckeye sips nectar from Gayfeather.
Another Common Buckeye with some wing damage is on the Gregg's Mistflower.
This Skipper is drinking from Gayfeather.
This Painted Lady butterfly is feeding among the flowers of Mealycup Sage.
American Lady is closely related to Painted Lady. American Lady has fewer and larger eye spots on the wings than Painted Lady.
This little Eastern Tailed Blue is resting on Pink Skullcap.
I caught this Common Checkered Skipper laying eggs on a Winecup that rabbits had already nibbled.
This Purple Aster just started blooming. The Willowleaf aster and Fragrant Mistflower will begin blooming in another day or two. They will surely be covered in butterflies as well.
Below is a list of plants to avoid if you don't want butterflies flying around your garden, drinking nectar from your flowers, and laying eggs on your plants. If you just stick with grass and spray pesticides, the butterflies will fly right past your yard.
Conoclinium greggii - Gregg's Mistflower
Eupatorium havanense - Fragrant Mistflower
Liatris mucronata - Gayfeather
Salvia farinacea - Mealycup Sage
Salvia coccinea - Scarlet Sage
Symphyotrichum oblongifolium - Aromatic Aster
Symphyotrichum praealtum - Willowleaf Aster
Tetraneuris scaposa - Four Nerve Daisy
Verbesina encelioides - Cowpen Daisy
Verbesina virginica - Frostweed
Wedelia hispida - Zexmenia
Here is an interesting video about Monarchs that aired in 2010.