Butterfly Conclave

With the sun’s penchant for playing hide-n-seek in recent weeks, it’s been a slow-go for butterfly watching.  If it’s not vomiting rain, it’s cloudy, and neither scenario is conducive for butterfly activity.   But during the increasingly common moments of sunshine, the winged jewels are out and about, nectaring, mating and laying eggs–and posing for garden paparazzi.

This Giant Swallowtail, Papilio cresphontes, enjoyed a treat at the flowers of my Mexican Orchid Tree.


Black Swallowtail,  Papilio polyxenes, like this gorgeous specimen,


…are common visitors.  I’ve invited them by having their host plant, fennel, in my gardens.  They lay their eggs on it for the hatched caterpillars to eat.  This adult  is nectaring on a Henry Duelberg Sage,  Salvia farinacea ‘Henry Duelberg’. He fluttered still long enough for the wildlife gardener to snap a couple of shots.

IMGP7656.new IMGP7657.new

There was one, ONE, Monarch butterfly, Danaus plexippus, who visited my gardens this spring, but she was a late-comer.IMGP7970.new

Given her good condition, I’m sure she was one that hatched from a parent who overwintered in Mexico, migrated north, mated, laid eggs and died here in Austin, or nearby.

IMGP7971_cropped_2170x2783..new I’m certain that she’s on her way north now, ready to continue the generations that will eventually summer in Canada, before the autumn migration south to Mexico.

In this post I’m going for the big, gorgeous, cheap-thrill butterflies that alight on flowers, remain relatively still and that anyone can take photos of.  There have been plenty fast-flying skippers and smaller butterflies/moths that I haven’t captured in digital form for posterity, but there are some nice shots of this little moth.IMGP8177.new

The Small Pink MothPyrausta inornatalis, is another regular in my garden and so pretty in its pink scales.

IMGP8178_cropped_2710x2728..new The generous rainfall and soft spring have encouraged an abundance of life in the garden and after years of moderate to severe drought here in Central Texas, that life is welcome.  I hope the insects in your garden are enjoying spring and playing their important pollinator roles–ensuring the balance that is challenged on so many fronts.

23 thoughts on “Butterfly Conclave

    • I love that shot too–my bees adore that particular birdbath. I had to place rocks in it so they wouldn’t drown so often. The birds aren’t quite as happy with the rocks though.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Great shots! Don’t sell yourself short. I’ve gotten all sorts of awful/mediocre shots of your designated easier-to-photograph butterflies over the years. Your photos are proving your increasing patience and prowess at stalking!

    I am getting a lot of activity, not all of it desirable, unfortunately. While I feel I forestalled an infestation of potato beetles (time will tell – not out of the woods yet I fear) there are emergent flea beetles galore and aztec spur throat babies all noshing away in the garden beds at the moment. I’ve got ground bee action, Fritillaries laying eggs on their passion vines and lots of skippers and hairstreaks, but not many of the larger, more graceful flyers you’ve featured.

    My fennel had come back from being trimmed nearly to the ground and was looking so lovely, but in the past two days has flopped over dramatically, pulling what is the plant equivalent of a hand to the forehead as it collapses on the chaise lounge (or in this case, soil). I’m not sure whether to leave it to self correct or to try and stake it up some way. Does yours stay upright, no matter what?


    • Trust me, I have some bad actors setting up shop in my gardens too. The aphids really did a number on my frostweed foliage and the hail lent its signature damage too, though the frostweed is recovering. I haven’t had potato beetles, but there are others and I have holes in lots of plants.

      I think the fennel is drowning. Some of mine has rotted at the crown, so I’ve dug it up, or plan to. Most of it’s okay, but I think I’m going to pull away the mulch. Probably should have done that already. Ahem.


  2. Tina, you have taken some really beautiful photos and love your description of the rain, that just about sums up the weather so far this week. We are due some sun tomorrow!


    • Thank you Julie–high praise, indeed! I’ve seen your photos. 🙂 We have sun today, though spotty again, with plenty of warmth and humidity.


  3. Wonderful pictures…of happy flutterbys in your garden! I wonder where they hide in the rain. Yesterday the sun was out and our front garden was full of them. One even landed on my husband’s head. He is the bug whisper and loves taking photos of them with his phone.


    • I hope they’re happy, or at least busy with choices. I think they tend to go under leaves and bark during rain, but I’m sure some drown. I’ve wondered about the ground nesting bees in my area, as we flooded.

      I love it when a butterfly lands on me–I like to think they have an affinity for me, but, I suspect they’re just working on the assumption that my red shirt might yield some nectar for them.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Great photos! Wow. I have never seen a pink moth before. Thank you for sharing. The butterflies do seem a bit overwhelmed by the rain. And the lizards look kind of wrinkled like they’ve been sitting in the bathtub too long. But. I refuse to complain. Every drop is welcome.


    • You’re welcome, Debra. I think that little moth is pretty common–keep an eye out for it, I’ll bet you’ll spot it. It is tiny though.

      I agree that every drop of rain is welcome, though I can’t say the same about the mosquitoes.


  5. Fantastic photos! I love the Monarch — the way the white dots on the wings match up with the white dots on the body is really eye-catching. I read somewhere that when the sky darkens, whether its due to night approaching or ominous rainclouds, butterflies find a nesting place and settle in until the sky brightens again. They need the sun on their wings to give them energy for flight. The pink moth is something new to me! It’s truly amazing what’s out there if we just look for it. It’s quite pretty. Kudos for finding it and getting a picture. It looks very pretty against the purple blooms.

    I never did get my parsley and dill seeds into the ground before the rains came. Now I’m afraid the seeds will rot if I plant them…


    • Thanks! The butterflies were all very cooperative. You’re right–butterflies need the warmth of the sun to fly, so it’s not typical to see them flying in cloudy conditions and definitely not rainy conditions.

      The little pink guy is a handsome one and it is amazing what’s in our own back yards–if we just look.

      You might try planting your seeds, they’ll certainly germinate–if they’re not washed away.


  6. They’re all wonderful. It looks a good year. We are having more Pipevine Swallowtails than anything right now and I see more pipevines (the plant) around. None of that is my doing, just Nature carrying on as usual.


    • Thanks–I think it is going to be a good year for butterflies. Finally! Funnily enough, I don’t see Pipevines all that often and I know they’re around here. Hmmm. I may need to help matters along by planting what they want–helping nature, just a little.


    • Lol. Don’t diss your little brown, boring moths too much. They’ve evolved to have a niche in their environment, so they’re important because of that and if you look carefully, sometimes, they boring ones are actually quite attractive with their subtle coloring and shading. That pink one is pretty though, and eye-catching and that “sells” on the blogosphere. 🙂


  7. Gorgeous pictures! Love the Giant Swallowtail butterfly on the Mexican Orchid Tree flowers. So pretty! Planted tons of parsley for the Black Swallowtails and only had one caterpillar:( I’ve seen a pink moth in our garden. They are tiny… I was a little taken back when I first saw it. They are such a pretty shade of pink. They love the salvia and sage plants. The pink moth is a nice contrast to the purple flowers:)


    • That was such a lucky shot–the light was just right and Ms. Butterly was so perfect! (The plant’s not bad, either.) You’ll get more caterpillars, no worries there, it just might take some time. That little pink moth is very pretty and color-coordinates well with many flowers.


  8. I am so glad you’ve had enough rain this spring! That’s such a relief, isn’t it?! And it should be a good thing for wildlife, plants, and butterflies. Last summer the most frequent butterfly visitor in my garden was the Monarch. I hope that happens again this year. I keep adding more Milkweed. I also had some Giant Swallowtails stop by, which is less common this far north. I’m wondering if it was the tropical nectar plants in my cutting garden, or if we perhaps have some host plant Prickly Ash nearby. I need to look thoroughly in the woods to see if it’s in my backyard! Love the Tiger Swallowtails, too. Great photos!


    • We’ve had plenty of rain!! Actually, the flooding is becoming a problem–some folks in North Texas are having to evacuate their homes because of the rising rivers. That’s Texas–either droughty or floody–there seems no in-between!

      But you are right that there has been more in the way of insects (good and bad) and it’s been interesting after our 8 year drought.

      Hope you continue to have those beauties visit your gardens as you move into the summer months!


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