Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Butterflies and Other Garden Wildlife

I've mentioned the warm, dry weather we've been having. While it's hard on the plants, apparently it's very good for butterflies. We've seen lots of butterflies in the garden so far this year, including cabbage whites, common blues, red admirals, small tortoiseshells (like the one above), and...

...commas, like this one. Many of these butterflies are attracted to our buddleia, or butterfly bush, which the butterflies (appropriately) love. The buddleia has a fraught reputation in Britain for being a vigorous weed, and it's true it can seed itself into remarkably small crevices in walls and pavements, and especially on vacant land and beside railroad lines. (We dead-head ours, and I'm not even sure they're the type to re-seed -- we bought them as garden hybrids.) But for attracting insects, buddleia is great.

This is a close-up of one of our zinnias. I thought that little flower-like structure in the center -- a flower within a flower! -- was especially interesting. Flowers are so bizarre when you see them up close, aren't they?

(Just above the flowerlet, you can see an uncurling petal -- and there's a bug, almost out of sight, clinging to the back of it. Thus, this photo conforms to the "wildlife" parameters of my post!)

Also on the buddleia, I found this crab spider feasting on a bee. Apparently the spiders lurk until an unsuspecting insect lands nearby, and then they seize their prey with those crab-like front legs. Nature, she fierce!


  1. I do not believe I have ever seen a crab spider before. Given yesterday's events and this spider's eating habits, it should perhaps be renamed The Boris Johnson Spider. Ooops sorry! I forgot that this is now an apolitical blog.

  2. I love the way buddleia plant themselves everywhere. I often think that if there was a disaster all of these plants would soon fill the land again, they are so resilient, unlike us humans.

  3. Love the flowers, not so much the bugs. Ick.

  4. Seems like I've seen a lot of butterflies this summer too. And spiders. My bathroom seems to be a haven for them.
    I feel so ashamed. You have zinnias and I do not. I just couldn't get it together to plant any.
    Love the crab spider. Sneaky little critter.

  5. we had so many butterflies last year but this year hardly any. most of my butterfly weed didn't survive the flood. haven't seen that many spiders either for that matter. of course it is so hot and mosquitoey I'm mostly staying indoors.

  6. You have "Wild Kingdom" going on right in your back yard!

  7. This is some intense photography. It takes effort to get he image you have. I hate invasive species!

  8. Love seeing the flowers there. Reminds me that we may want to plant a Buddleia. We had one when we lived in Santa Cruz, and it does attract some great butterflies. That white crab spider is very, very cool. Great photos!

  9. Fantastic photos! You find such drama right outside your door!

  10. Couldn't help but think of . . . Beauty and the Beast.

  11. Little spider , so handsome with his bee dinner, pretty sure bees are dessert. The little flower inside the big flower in a curly bed is utterly charming! There is a paucity of insect activity up here this year, no butterflies, no lady bugs, narry a beetle.They all must know something we don't.

  12. My butterfly bush, planted only two years ago, is almost dead. I have no idea why. I wish they grew like weeds here! It wasn't cheap :)

    I feel sorry for the bee but everybody has to eat, I guess, including handsome white spiders!

  13. Those are unbelievably beautiful photos, mate. Especially the last one. I, too, have noticed more butterflies in my garden. :-)

  14. YP: Don't worry -- I would never begrudge my commenters their political remarks! In fact I'm sure I'll continue to make my own here and there.

    Briony: There's a fascinating book called "The World Without Us," that explains what would happen to all our structures, our landscape, if humanity disappeared. Things wouldn't last very long!

    Marty: We need bugs! We NEED them.

    Ms Moon: I'm sure your garden is surviving fine without zinnias, but they ARE nice to have around. We've never grown them before this year but I'm really enjoying them.

    Ellen: I wonder if the flood killed the butterfly eggs and larvae that would become this year's insects? That's my guess.

    Sharon: Indeed! I've said it before and I'll say it again -- "Where's Marlon Perkins?"

    Red: Thanks! Buddleias, while they can be weedy, are not officially classified as invasive. There's no prohibition against planting them. (Unlike, for example, Japanese knotweed.)

    Robin: Definitely get a buddleia! You will not be disappointed! I don't think I'd ever seen a spider that color, but apparently crab spiders come in different colors and I think I have seen green ones before.

    37P: Eat or be eaten!

    Catalyst: Except in this case, Beauty doesn't take to the Beast at all.

    Linda Sue: Bees DO seem like they'd be dessert. I think this spider ate two bees, actually. Glutton!

    Jenny-O: Really?! I'm surprised! Did you cut it back? It's supposed to be cut way back in the winter so it will regenerate and bloom the following year.

    Cuban: Thank you! Glad to hear from you again! Let's enjoy these butterflies while we can! :)