Pussytoes and American lady butterflies

I like Pussytoes (Antennaria spp.) for a ground cover. They are drought tolerant and I have patches of them growing in various degrees of sun and shade.

However, I recently became concerned when I saw leaves that looked damaged. I was pleasantly surprised when my friend, Connie May of Chrysalis Natural Landscapes, told me the damage was due to caterpillars of the American lady butterfly (Vanessa virginiensis). And I was relieved when she told me the caterpillars will not destroy the plants.

Pussytoe leaves with caterpillars

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Garter snake

I know many folks are afraid of snakes, and I haven’t always fully appreciated them. However, I’ve come to understand that they are beneficial, and it was a treat to see this Garter snake basking in the backyard sun recently. Note the eye with a round pupil. Most poisonous snakes in North America have a vertical pupil.

Garter Snake

Eastern Garter snakes (Thamnophis sirtalis) are one of the most common North American reptiles, and are considered harmless. Their appearance can vary, but they usually have three yellowish stripes. They feed on mice, slugs, insects, etc. Unlike other snakes that lay eggs, garter snakes give birth to live young.

I’m glad we don’t have to be concerned about posionous snakes in the yard, but I appreciate Garter snakes for the diversity and interest they provide. Although we don’t often see them, I’m glad to have them in the backyard.

Third generation Cecropia moth

Our Cecropia story began in 2012 when an injured moth laid eggs. Caterpillars from those eggs overwintered as cocoons, and emerged as moths last spring. One of those moths mated and laid eggs. The caterpillars grew and made cocoons that I left outside all winter. I was delighted to recently discover that this third generation moth had emerged.

Cecropia moth on cocoon

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