Butterfly Bonanza

Monarch butterfly on butterfly bush

This gorgeous monarch was one of a parade of butterflies that visited our butterfly bushes throughout Tuesday. Every time I looked, the blooms had a new set of butterflies on them!

Monarch butterfly on butterfly bush

The monarchs never seem to sit with their wings fanned out the way the swallowtails do. But they are much more apt to hop onto my hands and say ‘howdy,’ which of course I love to bits.

Butterfly Bush bloom

Here’s a view of a butterfly bush bloom taken from a butterfly’s perspective… yummy, no? If you’ve never seen a butterfly bush (scientific name: Buddleja davidii) they’re rather scraggly looking plants – except for the blooms, which remind me of lilacs. They are scented, to my nose, with a delicate honeyed fragrance that is delightful. We’re at the very edge of the zones where they can grow. Our winters are too cold for butterfly bushes to thrive, according to all the plant books. The bushes, however, apparently didn’t get that memo (thank goodness), and are going great guns.

Monarch butterfly on butterfly bush

*sigh!*

Gorgeous.

Maryland, My Maryland

USA Partial Eastern Seaboard States

So, Oh Best Beloved, did you happen to watch “Fox News Sunday” today? We did, and after watching I sent the following email to Chris Wallace.

Dear Chris,

My husband and I were rather perplexed when Governor Kaine stated on your August 24th broadcast that, “Joe [Biden] comes from a state, Delaware, that borders Virginia. The eastern shore part of Virginia and Delaware are not only bordering but very, very similar.”

Really?

I’m not a geography major, but isn’t there a rather large chunk of real estate known as “Maryland” that lies between the two?

My husband created the attached map from US Government boundary data and, yup, that BIG white space in between Delaware and Virginia contains a little piece of property called “Maryland” and a reasonably sized chunk of water.

US Government State Boundaries - Virginia and Delaware

I’m more concerned about a Governor losing track of a whole state than Senator McCain not having an exact count of the housing units he owns as investments…

Best regards,

JAS

As an independent, I am equally annoyed by errors of this type made by either party. But when a governor who was one of the final candidates for the Democratic Party’s VP nomination loses track of an entire STATE in order to make some sort of political point, it makes me… well… queasy.

*sigh*

Oh, yeah!

Lop-earred Bunny Statue

Woot! Woot! Kris, me n’ the bunnies are sending a salute to you!

After you told me about bracketing, I went spelunking through my 200 page camera manual and found this:

Bracketing Option paragraph for HP-R817

It lets me automatically push the exposure in several different ways on its own, and combines with other pre-set or manual options.

Oh, yeah.

Thank you, Kris!

(The little bunny pictured, btw, lives in one of my flower beds – she was a gift from Michael. She’s the only bunny in our yard that doesn’t eat my flowers!)

Got ‘Im!

Yellow Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly fanning wings

Ha! Finally got a photo of one of the yellow Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterflies!

I’m loving all the butterflies we’re seeing this year, thanks to the new butterfly bushes.

We have some new residents in the yard, too. They’re half-pint sized baby chipmunks. They’re living with Momma Chippie in a burrow she’s created underneath my raised garden that has irises and three big cherry tomato plants.

They are incredibly cute! I’ve alway thought chipmunks were cute, but BABY chipmunks – OMG! They’re adorable!

However.

As I was watching the baby chippies last weekend, one of them hopped up and sat on the side of the raised bed to munch on something. Adorable! Cute! What a show! Awwww! And what is that its eating? It’s a little big for a berry and its bright red and…

YOU LITTLE STRIPED RAT! YOU’RE EATING MY RIPE CHERRY TOMATOES!

Obviously, Momma Chipmunk picked the spot for her burrow because of its prime location – right next to the tomato grocery store.

Since the weekend, the baby chippies have eaten every single tomato the moment it’s ripened. For the rest of the summer, I’m obviously going to have to pick my tomatoes a trifle on the green side, and let them ripen inside if we want to eat any of MY tomatoes.

Humpfh!

Meet the Small Fry!

Tiny bumblebee on yarrow

Today was warm for us (89F), so the yard was full of sun-loving insects. When I took a turn about the yard, I photographed several of the critters so I could share them with you, starting with this little bumblebee.

Huge dragonfly sitting on roses

This dragonfly was absolutely enormous, sort of a jumbo jet among the regular-sized insects hanging out here.

Another photo of the huge dragonfly sitting on the roses

To give you some perspective: the cluster of roses this guy (gal?) is sitting on is about six inches across!

Red Dragonfly

When I looked among the zinnas and daylilies, I saw a spot of red zipping about. At first I thought it was a damselfly, but now that I can see it “up close” in the photograhs, I’m pretty sure it’s a dragonfly. It’s about a quarter of the size of the other dragonfly.

Red Dragonfly side shot

Here’s the same dragonfly, seen from the side.

Asian Lady Beetle

This little Asian (or Japanese) Lady Beetle was hiding in the yarrow. They’re a beneficial non-native insect that can become a nuisance in the fall when they gather by the thousands, looking for warm places to over-winter.

Soldier Beetle

The yarrow was also swarming with soldier beetles like this one. They’re related to fireflies, and are very beneficial beetles to have in your garden. These guys love to munch on aphids, grasshopper eggs and all sorts of bugs that are considered pests. (UPDATE: opps! That’s tansy, not yarrow!)

Blue Damselfly

This delicate little creature is a damselfly. Although it looks like a dragonfly, it’s a completely different critter. The end of the tail was a vivid blue, and its entire body shimmered.

There were many more beautiful insects that I just couldn’t get good images of, including several yellow Eastern tiger swallowtail butterflies that were absolutely gorgeous. The black tiger swallowtails were back, too – but instead of snapping photographs I spent my time convincing one to walk onto my hand.

Butterfly feet tickle!