Garden Blog 8/10/20

Remember that ‘leaf-footed bug from last week? What is it really? Thanks to someone asking about it in a Facebook insect group, Marilyn discovered that it’s a jagged ambush bug, which is in the assassin bug family (sounds scary!) All of that is just as it sounds: It hides and then attacks other insects that are many times its size. So, it was in the zinnias because of the many other things we now have visiting them!


Here is a lovely photo of beautiful evening light on an older male monarch. Marilyn can age the butterflies based on the condition of their wings (you can too – are the wings a bit jagged and fading? Those characteristics come with age.




This is the closest she could get, so we’ll have to trust Marilyn that this is a very large butterfly, and also a big deal because she’s pretty sure she’s never seen one in the HPNC garden before, and possibly not anywhere. It’s called a giant swallowtail.




And this is an eastern tiger swallowtail (not a yellow monarch, as some people think). Marilyn says she sees them sometimes, but not very often. [This has been a lucky week!]



This next photo, we are sharing because it’s something you might see, too. If you do, it’s totally fine — it’s a pair of monarchs mating, and it’s normal for them to remain together like this for almost an entire day. No need to worry, or intervene!



I’m not sure quite where we are in the season, but it may be that the eggs that the monarch on the right will lay will be the parents of the generation that migrates to Mexico! We’re getting close to when we’ll be raising the migrating generation, but I don’t think we’re there yet.


Two recent stories about butterflies in our community:


The other night, while Marilyn was in a Zoom meeting about something totally unrelated, she got a message from a neighbor across the street. She had a few caterpillars eating her parsley, and the parsley was almost gone. She found out enough to realize that they’d turn into butterflies, and she also thought I might know how to help them. I told her what to do as a stopgap, and then she brought them over to me after my meeting. They’re eastern black swallowtails, which I’m now raising because I thought after all that, it would be a shame if something in the garden ate them — and also because they’re another butterfly that I really like to raise.


Recently, my Marilyn’s husband took their son to get a replacement library card and somehow in conversation with the head children’s librarian at Blackstone, Jocelyn Simmons, it came up that she raises a small number of monarchs each summer, too, from caterpillars given to her by someone at Brookfield Zoo. She ended up calling me, and then I gave her a couple of monarch eggs because she was interested in seeing the whole process but wasn’t sure what the eggs looked like. She mentioned that she knows Mr. Andrew, too (!), so it’s a small butterfly world here in Hyde Park.

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