Monday, January 30, 2012

Flower Hill Farm BUTTERFLIES OF 2011 ~ Favorite Buckeye

I was lucky to get so close to this fresh and perfect  Common Buckeye as it sipped nectar from, of all plants, a hydrangea.

Buckeye Junonia coenia

It was a joyous June day this past summer when I captured my first ever Buckeye! 
These beauties do not overwinter here but fly south as our beloved Monarchs. I have read that they hold their own in comparison to the Monarchs in extravaganza, as they stream through Cape May in the Autumn. I have yet to see that fabulous display!

Host plants for the caterpillars are numerous. Be sure to let some plantain grow! They love stonecrop too . . .  of the Crassulaceae family. Got figwort or vervain?! Be sure to share your mallow and verbena. Then you might find these stunning eyes looking back at you in your garden. 

I love doing reviews of birds and butterflies in the winter, for it brings spring and summer back into our lives. 
 Each winter day is growing longer by minutes. I enjoy seeing the sun as it inches more towards the north . . .  nearly climbing over Walnut Hill now every morning, where it had been rising over the Mount Holyoke Range  on the winter solstice.   

We are having a mild winter here in New England. Eastern Black Swallowtails might be sleeping in their chrysalises somewhere out in that white landscape. The birds have not been very active in the crabapples yet . . . I do miss all the colorful Robins, Cedar and Bohemian Waxwings and even the Bluebirds are not as numerous as in previous years. There must be plenty of food for them all elsewhere. I do delight in seeing our resident Red-tailed hawk most mornings as he or she basks in the sun.
Up next for the butterfly reviews will be the American Painted Lady.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Flower Hill Farm BUTTERFLIES OF 2011 ~ Favorite Eastern Black Swallowtail

Eyeing female depositing an egg on hidden Wild Carrot

A lucky sighting! A female  Black Swallowtail, Papilio polyxenes (Fabricius), 1775 deposits an egg. 

1st and 2nd Instar

3rd Instar

4th Instar

5th Instar

Spinning thread and Letting Go!

Talk about a weight loss that many would envy . . . the Black Swallowtail evacuates its entire digestive system before becoming a chrysalis. Note how much smaller it is in the shots above . . . when comparing to the photographs of the caterpillar eating above it. 

Black Swallowtail Chrysalis cozy within a Monarch Community

SURPRISE! I thought this little creature would over-winter. 

What a joy it was to raise my very first  Black Swallowtail.

An added Joy to share it with you all again in a different way. 

This is a series of looking back over my favorite butterfly photographs of 2011. 

If you grow or live near any plants in the carrot family (Umbelliferae) you may find the eggs or caterpillars of the Black Swallowtail and learn more about these creatures by raising them yourselves. Of course, it is always better to observe them in their natural habitat. I confess I do feel guilty taking them from the fields or gardens but try to recreate their environment as close as possible.

Something Wild for Gail over at Clay and Limestone  . . . be sure to visit her gardens and see other wildflowers from around the country.

Metamorphosis is the perfect word for me this week Katarina! Skip over to Sweden for Blooming Friday

Friday, January 20, 2012

Flower Hill Farm BUTTERFLIES Of 2011 ~ Favorite Monarchs

The much beloved and admired Monarch Butterfly Danaus plexippus begins this series of my favorite butterflies from the gardens of 2011. I so look forward to their return each summer and delight in finding their tiny etched eggs on milkweed plants. It is more exciting when I see the female actually fastening her eggs

I should truly love to be a butterfly . . . a Monarch emerging in late summer, so I could fly to Mexico. 
Ah . . .  to have the courage of a butterfly! I should wish for sunny warm days to fly freely.

Here are a few of my favorite images and encounters with Monarch butterflies over last summer and fall. I have written extensively about their marvel of a metamorphosis here, here, here, herehere and here

This is the first in a parade of butterflies from 2011. 

It is time to visit Katarina for other fanciful flights of imagination and delight.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

A Piece of the Center . . . Centerpieces For Katarina

Fritillary Sipping in the Center of Echinacea Bloom

 Black Swallowtail Going Into the Center


Bluebird in Nestbox Entrance Center

Baby Indigo Bunting 

Flower Hill Farm's Black Cherry (Michael's tree) in the Center of a double Rainbow

Centerpieces for a Wedding

Playing with the notion of centers and centerpieces for Katarina 

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