Sunday, October 17, 2010

Butterflies on the Prairie

The number of butterflies flying around my suburban prairie has increased over the last few weeks. Monarchs are making a pit stop on the prairie as they migrate to Mexico. Other visitors include queen, common buckeye, painted lady, American snout, gulf fritillary, gray hairstreak, and various varieties of skipper butterflies.

The flowers of blue mistflower are the crowd pleaser right now. The plants are covered with butterflies all day long. Other favorites are frostweed, zexmenia, cowpen daisies, four nerve daisies, frogfruit, and the many types of salvia on the prairie. The white mistflower plants are sure to become the favorite flower on the prairie when they begin blooming this week.

Here is a look at some of the butterflies and other flying creatures that posed for a photo op.

Monarch on Blue Mistflower

 Great Purple Hairstreak on Frostweed

 Painted Lady on Frostweed

 American Snout on Blue Mistflower

 Common Buckeye on Blue Mistflower

 Gulf Fritillary on Blue Mistflower

 Yet-to-be-identified Yellow Butterfly on Zexmenia

 The tiny Eastern Tailed-Blue. Thanks for help with the ID Kathleen.
 Giant Swallowtail Caterpillar on Hercules Club Tree

 Dragonfly on Gayfeather

Interesting Green and Black Fly? on Frostweed

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Fall on the Prairie

This is my favorite time of the year to be in my garden, or should I say "on my prairie". After the hot, dry summer, fall rains and cooler temperatures brought the prairie back to life.

The growth on the forbs is fresh and green. The colors of their flowers are more intense than ever. The grasses are tall and blooming. Their leaves and flower stalks sway with the slightest breeze.

 Butterflies and bees swarm the Mealycup sage, Salvia farinacea 'Henry Duelberg', zexmenia, Wedelia hispida, scarlet sage, Salvia coccinea and little bluestem grass, Schizachyrium scoparium.

The flower spikes of gayfeather, Liatris mucronata, peek through the little bluestem grass.

The light blue leaves of pale-leaf yucca, Yucca pallida, and four-nerve daisy, Hymenoxys scaposa  are a nice contrast to the changing colors of the little bluestem. Earlier in the year, the yucca and little bluestem were about the same shade of blue, but now the little bluestem is gradually changing to a copper color.

Birdbath and zexmenia.

Entering the backyard prairie, there are more flowers and grasses in bloom. Zexmenia, Mexican bush sage, Salvia leucantha, Indian grass, Sorghastrum nutans, switchgrass, Panicum virgatum 'Dallas Blues', autumn sage, Salvia greggii, and blue mistflower, Conoclinium greggii, to name a few.

Turning to right, frostweed, Verbesina virginica, turk’s cap, Malvaviscus arboreus var. Drummondii, and scarlet sage, are among the flowers under my only shade tree.

Whether taking advantage of the cooler temperatures to work on an outdoor project or just enjoying the plants and wildlife, it’s a great time to be on the prairie. You just can’t beat Texas in the fall.