Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Coneflower Attracts Monarch and Much More

Typically, my random butterfly sightings don't go much beyond a tiger swallowtail fluttering in the distance. But on July 19, the purple coneflowers in the frontyard raingarden drew a diverse crowd, including this beautiful monarch. This sighting added to a few sightings elsewhere to suggest that monarchs are rebounding from a couple very tough years in which the overwintering area they occupied in the mountains of Mexico dropped to only a few acres. The blog at monarchwatch.org confirms that they are having a comparatively good year. The magnificent monarch with its matchless migration will always be vulnerable, particularly given the destabilizing effects of climate change, the loss of milkweed in farm fields now that Roundup-Ready corn and soybeans allow elimination of weeds, and the ongoing threats to the evergreen forests the monarchs congregate in every winter. There's a lot more work to do to make their population more resilient, but it's heartening to see them on the upswing.

A black tiger swallowtail in particularly good condition.

This looks to be a variegated fritillary,

with a different pattern on the underside.

A skipper,

a bumblebee, of which there are many species.

It was an oak in the backyard that attracted this moth, possibly a tulip tree beauty moth.

A few days later, we were back to the tiger swallowtail.

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