Garden beauties

The wildflowers are at almost peak color and diversity in the backyard, and happily this year, quite a few butterflies have made an appearance there for the first time in several years.

monarch butterfly-

It’s always great to see Monarch butterflies flitting about — this beautiful female spent far more time sipping nectar from the coneflowers than she did laying eggs on the milkweed. Numbers of Monarchs have dipped precipitously in the last few years, due to a number of stressors along their migratory route.  Hopefully this will be a good year for Monarch production.

red admiral-

A well-worn Red Admiral with a rather large bite out of one of his wings is one of several of these butterflies that frequent the coneflowers in the backyard.  This is one species that does not seem to have suffered population declines in recent years.

american lady

An American Lady (sometimes erroneously called Painted Lady which is a different and related species), with its bright black and blue spots on its hind wing, is closely related to the Red Admiral.  This is another very common species across the U.S.

american lady

Part of its forewing looks just like that of the Red Admiral, but those two big eyespots are unique to the American Lady.  The butterflies we see in MN (and other parts of the northern U.S.) are most likely offspring of more southerly distributed butterflies that migrated north in the spring.

great spangled fritillary-

Great Spangled Fritillary butterflies are another widespread species across North America.  It’s one of the larger butterflies (> 2 inches), a little larger than a Monarch.  Larvae feed on native violets — plenty of those in the backyard.

great spangled fritillary-

With its combination of black slashes on the top of its orange wings and large white ovals on the other side, it can be difficult to tell this species from other fritillaries, but the wide buff band between the two rows of white spots differentiate this species from Aphrodite and Atlantis Fritillaries, with which the Great Spangled overlaps in range.

backyard garden-

Where the excitement takes place in the backyard…

What else is in the garden today?  A small Gray Tree Frog matches the leaves on which it is resting.

gray tree frog-

6 thoughts on “Garden beauties

  1. Super shots, Sue. Those cone flowers sure make a nice posing platform for all of those butterflies. I’m still searching for my first Monarch of the season, but have seen most of the others that you featured, albeit not in a single location.

    • I never thought coneflowers would be such an attractive source of nectar, but the bumblebees and the butterflies prefer them to anything else in the garden. Look and learn, I guess.

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