Blazing Stars and Tiger Swallowtail

The tall, purple spikes of Blazing Stars (Liatris) are now the brightest spot in the backyard and we’ve been enjoying them immensely.

We aren’t the only ones who like these flowers. Various bees and other small insects are frequent visitors, as well as a hummingbird.

We’ve also been watching several Tiger Swallowtail butterflies as they float gracefully from one spike to another. Continue reading “Blazing Stars and Tiger Swallowtail”

Butterfly and Native Plant Resources and Images

I appreciate everyone who is giving monarchs and other butterflies a helping hand, and I want to support them however I can. One way to do that is by sharing resources I’ve created and photos I’ve taken.

For example, I managed to photograph a monarch laying eggs in our backyard in 2006, and the amazing transformations that occurred from egg to caterpillar to chrysalis and finally to a new adult.

I’ve recently added a web page with butterfly and native plant resources for educators and anyone interested in butterflies. It includes:

  • Monarch life cycle
  • How to create a Monarch Way Station
  • 25 Kentucky native plants – for beginners who want to attract butterflies

In addition to the PDFs, photos on my website may be downloaded for educational purposes. If you need higher resolution images for printing, please contact me.

“Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.”
Van Gogh

Polyphemus Moth caterpillars – week 2

The Polyphemus caterpillars have been ‘eating machines’! In two weeks they’ve doubled in size.

Polyphemus Moth Caterpillar at two weeks

Do I dare call them ‘cute’? How about all the red ‘knobs and spikes’? Click the image below for a closer look at their fringed feet (or classy ‘shoes’)! Continue reading “Polyphemus Moth caterpillars – week 2”

Hurray for Moths and National Moth Week!

I haven’t blogged for a while, but I’ve been having fun discovering and learning about moths. I added a moth chart (still in process) to my website with some of the moths I’ve seen, many of them in our backyard.

This week, July 23-31, is National Moth Week, and seems like a fitting time to share my latest moth adventure.

I raised my first Polyphemus moth in 2010, and I recently raised three more. I placed one of the females in a mating cage, hoping she would have a visitor. Indeed she did, and this is a photo of them mating. 

Polyphemus moths mating

Continue reading “Hurray for Moths and National Moth Week!”

Beautiful Imperial Moth emerges

I had fun raising an Imperial Moth (Eacles imperialis) caterpillar last summer. In September, it stopped eating and disappeared into a large pot of dirt at the back of our house. I’ve been watching it all summer, and was thrilled recently to discover this newly emerged moth.

Imperial Moth (male)

The contrasting brown and yellow markings indicate this is a male. Females appear more yellow, with lighter brown markings. The black object in front of the moth is the hollow pupal case from which it emerged.

I find the whole process amazing. A caterpillar emerged from a tiny egg, ate pine needles and grew to 4 inches. One day it quit eating, went underground, and pupated for the winter. Eleven moths later, it emerged as a beautiful moth. What a story!