Saturday, June 26, 2010

Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer

This is a Eastern Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes) on a sage leaf. In the past, they have been on my Queen Anne lace, parsley and rue. This year they were on my dill. I never mind offering up some of my herbs to caterpillars because the end result is a beautiful butterfly. If one can get over the "wormy" issue, this caterpillar is quite beautiful, too.

The next two photos were taken in the fall and the favorite food choices were phlox and bee balm.

Some people find phlox too informal for their gardens but I let them self seed with abandon. Among the last flowers to bloom, they offer nourishment in the form of nectar for butterflies. That and the fact they are beautiful in their array of pinks, whites, and lavenders.

Often the most desirable food for butterflies are the native and more casual looking plants such as bee balm (pictured above.) Each little point is a source of nectar. As the plant dries in the fall, butterflies still eat again and again from the remaining parts.
As I've said at least a blue zillion times, if you want beautiful butterflies, you must have host plants for the eggs, caterpillar, chrysalis and the butterfly. AND, not use insecticides - butterflies are very sensitive to insecticides.
The Eastern Black Swallowtail is common in this area. Right now is the time when I first see them flying - the caterpillar was easy to photograph a few weeks ago as it lazily munched dill.
I've never been very good or very attentive to finding the yellow eggs or brown wood like chrysalis.
The 1963 hit song by Nat King Cole, whose lyrics go, "Those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer - those days of soda and pretzels and beer" came to mind as I watched a butterfly floating from flower to flower and then flutter over the house.
I've seen more butterflies this year and the season is just getting started. While mowing this week (between rains), the roadside was simply shimmering with so many different butterflies. I'm thinking it has to be attributed, in part, to the lack of roadside mowing. Yes, our poor Illinois fiscal situation is actually benefiting at least the insects of our state.
Now everybody join me - a one and a two...

"Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer

Those days of soda and pretzels and beer

Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer

Dust off the sun and moon and sing a song of cheer.

You'll wish that summer could always be here.

You'll wish that summer could always be here."

OH YEAHhhhhh!

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