Bienvenue et au revoir: Wildlife Wednesday, November 2019

It’s November and my garden is still in active flowering and life giving mode.  In recent weeks I’ve said a happy howdy y’all to a resurgence of Gulf Fritillary butterfly larvae and a slightly regretful, but ultimately joyful so long ’til next spring to migrating Monarch butterflies.  That’s the wildlife gardening way: seasonal change is more than an onslaught of blooms or a conversion of foliage color.  It’s also about the cyclic lives of those dependent upon plants for their survival, as well as the fostering of a healthy environment in which wildlife will thrive.

I’m pleased to report that there are scads of Gulf FritillaryAgraulis vanillae butterfly larvae currently chowing down on my passion vine foliage.

Welcome to the passion vine buffet!

I’m fine with the dining on the leaves, but I wish the cats would leave the budding blooms alone.

Many Gulf fritillary larvae are busily munching, when earlier in the season there was a dearth of larvae activity, which you can read about in my September Wildlife Wednesday post.

I was perplexed at that time, because adult butterflies were clearly laying eggs and some caterpillars were hatching and working the vine.  But there were few caterpillars surviving to chrysalis stage and at least some were clearly parasitized during their later instars.  That the foliage wasn’t eaten as vigorously as is typical piqued my curiosity, but after some observation and reading, I concluded wasps were the culprits, preying on the caterpillars and reducing their numbers.  As with all natural cycles, the tide has apparently turned: there are significantly fewer wasps around and the Gulf Fritillaries are in ascendance.

28 thoughts on “Bienvenue et au revoir: Wildlife Wednesday, November 2019

  1. You have a nice group of butterflies. I finally had a Monarch wander in, but otherwise not very many butterflies. As far as I can tell, I have only one very quiet hummingbird that will not use the feeder, which means my flowers are keeping it fed. A flock of tiny migrating birds, that I can’t identify, have been picking the bugs from the top of my trees. I believe they will be here for the winter and hopefully, I ‘ll get a better look. The American White Pelicans are back to the lake, taking lazy flights near my house.

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  2. The monarchs have really just started coming through here- though I saw sporadic ones in the past few weeks. They seem to really love the Mexican olive tree and the white mist flower shrub.

    Where did you get your Frostweed? It’s very nice, but I can’t recall ever seeing it for sale.

    Lovely pictures, as always!

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    • Thanks, Lauren! Yes, it would make sense they’re a bit later for you–that 70 some-odd miles of flight!

      I collected some seed from a garden I once worked at, sprinkled them out and the rest is history. If you have some established plants near to you in a green space, just grab some seeds. It’ll take a few years, but trust me, eventually you’ll have plenty. Have you looked at Native American Seeds? https://www.seedsource.com/catalog/

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  3. I saw a white pelican pod lazy flying south about a week ago here in NW Houston.

    Not a lot of monarchs over this way and definitely a dearth of gulf frits this summer. I’ll keep an eye out and see if the population swells up any now that it is later in the season.

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    • You’re near to where the Automatic Gardener lives, so you’re experiencing similar activity–that’s always interesting.

      The fritillaries have been interesting this year, or maybe, it’s just that I’ve paid more attention to their activities. Typically, I see plenty year-round, but they’ve mostly been active this autumn.

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      • And there’s another confirmation of the white pelican movement. It’s going to be really interesting to see if they make it down to my area next week. I’ve been watching for them in the air while I’m at work, and have yet to see a single one.

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  4. Congrats on your chrysalis, and all the wonderful butterflies! What a treat to see them come through, feast for a while, and eventually take off to their next destination. It certainly affirms the beauty of our cyclical lives.

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  5. Pingback: Wildlife Wednesday – On the hunt | Frogend dweller's Blog

  6. You follow these stories so well and I am happy to hear that the gulf fritillaries are currently in ascendance with the cycle continuing. I wouldn’t have guessed those nibbles to be cat damage. Are they after the nectar?
    I didn’t have time to write a post, but I am linking a wordless wildlife photo: https://wp.me/pM8Y1-7zr

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  7. Your mention of seasonal change offers another opening into the way that etymology reveals hidden connections, in this case a down-to-earth one. Our word season came into English from Old French, where it had developed from Latin satiōn-. For the Romans, that abstract noun meant ‘the act of sowing,’ which I assume normally took place in the fall and the spring. Eventually people came to associate the word more with the changing times of the year than with the sowing of seeds that took place at those times.

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  8. You have your own season of sharing going on over there. I’m so glad to see your Gulf fritillaries are back, and enthusiastically dining. The last time I was at Brazoria, I couldn’t believe the huge spreads of blue mistflower. I’ve never seen so much in one place — it was beautiful, and being visited by a lot of small butterflies. I found a single swallowtail caterpillar there, and some monarchs fluttering around and nectaring on Brazilian vervain.

    You gave me a laugh this morning, too. I was in our local ‘good’ garden center recently, looking for a birthday gift, and there was a pretty plant with flowers and berries in the sale section. It was only ten dollars, so I brought it home, without even asking what it was. (Some gardener, huh?) Well, now I know. It’s Duranta erecta. How about that? Now I can look it up and find out how to take care of it.

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    • I thought I’d already replied to this! Oh, blue mistflower. I just moved some today from a shady spot where is was blooming, but lamely, to a sunny spot where it will provide better for the pollinators.

      I just love Skyflower! I recently dug mine up as I really didn’t have a good place for it, just not enough sun. I’ve passed it onto a neighbor whose front garden has much more sun. I’ll enjoy it there.

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