Today’s warm temperatures and south winds brought an orange sulphur butterfly to our garden. Normally a common butterfly, this is the first one I’ve seen all year. The orange color on the upper wing, and dark black spots help to distinguish it from other sulphur butterflies. Adults drink nectar from many species of garden flowers; this one visited garden phlox and asters. The caterpillars prefer red clover, white clover, vetches and alfalfa. Other insects seen in the garden today include a potter wasp, paper wasps, bumble bees, honey bees, metallic green bees, flower flies, cicadas and an autumn meadowhawk dragonfly.
Our garden reached its peak a few weeks ago, but it’s still full of color and life in mid-September. Butterflies, many species of bees, and dragonflies are present. A tiny charcoal-colored mouse slices off the black-eyed Susan flower heads leaving long, empty stalks. (One year I found a mouse’s stash of flower heads and seeds in my garden toolbox!) A family of cardinals eats red yew berries; chipmunks and squirrels munch on the last of the beacon apples. Here are a few of the flowers and insects in our garden on this warm, sunny afternoon in St. Paul, Minnesota:
White-faced meadowhawk dragonflies patrol the garden for mosquitoes and other small, soft-bodied insects. Many years these dragonflies are active in our garden until mid-October.
Grass funnel spiders (Agelenopsis) are shy spiders that build flat webs with a funnel or tube at the back of the web. The spider rests out of sight in the funnel. When an insect lands on the web, the spider quickly captures it, bites it and wraps it in silk.
After many days without monarchs, a straggler sipped nectar from several different flower species.
A late-afternoon thunder shower blew through yesterday; a few rumbles of thunder and heavy rain for 10 minutes or so. It wasn’t enough to take care of watering for the week, but it refreshed the garden.