Saturday, August 4, 2012

Mighty Joe Pye

Several Joe Pye Weed (Eupatorium fistulosum) plants are providing an impressive 8-feet tall screen along the back fence. They have grown from tiny seedlings, which I bought in a six-pack from LINPI (Long Island Native Plant Initiative) a summer ago. The dusty pink blossom is a nectar source for bees of all shapes and sizes. The yellow tiger swallowtail butterfly seems to be particularly partial to this towering plant and I have also seen black swallowtails, Monarch butterflies, skippers and cabbage whites flutter and sip from the large round clusters of florets.

Yellow Tiger Swallowtail on Hollow-stemmed Joe Pye weed

Monarch butterflies also visit the seedlings of common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca). Their distinctive, striped larvae have been seen eating the leaves, but for some reason they do not stay on the plant long enough to pupate. The same is true of the Laugher or Marbled Tuffet Moth (Charadra deridens) larvae, which are fuzzy with long, pale hairs. I have found them on the underside of the leaves of sunflower and canna lily, although their preferred food source is beech and oak.

A flash of yellow and sweet mellifluous chirping alerts me to goldfinches in breeding plumage pecking at Echinacea seed heads. Now for a sighting of the ruby-throated hummingbird! They must surely visit the fuchsia and cardinal flower when I am not around to see them.

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