Saturday, March 10, 2012

Flower Hill Farm BUTTERFLIES OF 2011 ~ Sulphurs and Whites

Orange Sulphur on Aster

We now enter the family Pieridae, of fluttering Whites and Sulphurs, found in the gardens and fields here at Flower Hill Farm over the last few years. 
Orange sulphur Colias eurytheme and Clouded Sulphur Colias philodice, can be confusing to identify, but not to the female Orange sulphur butterflies, who are attracted to the ultraviolet in the male Orange sulphur upper wings. 
I enjoy these bright buttery and paler butterflies mostly in mid to late summer and fall, though their flight may begin as early as May. 
The Orange sulphur and Clouded Sulphur female butterflies will lay a single, yellow-white morphing into deep red, egg on numerous legumes but prefer alfalfa, vetches, and white clovers. It seems the Orange sulphur caterpillars enjoy dining mostly in the dark. One would have to enter the meadows towards evening . . .  to see the caterpillars wearing green and white-striped pjs munching their leafy legume supper. 
Both Orange and Clouded Sulphurs overwinter in their chrysalis forms.

Orange or Clouded on Vetch
Clouded Sulphur on Aster
Clouded Sulphurs flutter though these images of the south field . . . full of New England Asters.

There is always a great chase scene in every good story.

The Cabbage White Pieris rapae, and I share a common delight. We both love Brassicas. Planting peppergrass and mustards may encourage the female to fasten her yellow-green eggs on a more diverse group of delicious plants, so there will be enough to go around. 
Unfortunately the green and yellow-striped caterpillar is blamed . . .  and I guess rightfully so . . . for much agricultural damage. Poisons have not worked but only brought more angst to the human community. 
Cabbage Whites overwinter in their chrysalis stage. 
Introduced to Canada from Eurasia in the eighteen hundreds it may also have caused the decline of other native Whites. 

Spring is still harnessed and held back by winters frosty grip out in our New England gardens and landscapes, but the Smith College Bulb show is on, giving all a whiff and whirl of what is soon to be set free. These photographs from last March are as close as I have been able to get this year . . . so far. 

Bluebirds are giving a 'wing up' to our new birdhouses!! 
Snow is melting and next week will be in the high 50's and even 60's! 
Snowdrops are still perky after the heavy carpet of snow . . .  I thought surely had crushed them. 
Ah, to be so supple!
I have seen a few dead honeybees caught out in the cold after the warmer days last week. The Monarch Butterflies are leaving Mexico!

I am late for my flight to Sweden and Katarina's charming world. I am happy to share my garden jewels today!

From the fragile wings to beasts . . . you can see my latest piece on the Eastern Coyote from my Bestiary over at Native Plants and Wildlife Gardens. But beware . . . it is a chilling tale.

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