I’ve recently commented on the lack of butterflies in the garden this summer. But, like many of my most astute observations, as soon as I pronounce my conclusions I’m quickly proven incorrect. This bothers me only slightly. Gardeners are accustomed to being wrong, though it’s helpful that natural forces beyond my control are most often to blame.
In any case, I’m elated that butterflies have returned, though it could be that they were here all along and I didn’t notice, or I was roaming the garden at the wrong time. Even today there were times when there were no butterflies at all on the butterfly bushes (Buddleia ‘Blue Chip’, above) as they floated over to the nearby Joe Pye weed (Eutrochium or Eupatorium purpureum ‘Little Joe’, below), and then to the lantanas. Back and forth they went, often to avoid me, but always to another nectar laden bloom.
I have no clue in identifying one butterfly from another (though I did some research to identify the ones in these photos), but I’ve discovered that what looks like a bee often isn’t. I’m pretty certain about bumblebees, but I’ve read just enough to know that some of the bees I see in the garden are really wasps, and also some flies (hoverflies) are practically indistinguishable from bees. To make matters more difficult there is a moth that flies like a hummingbird and looks like a bumblebee (Hummingbird moth on ‘Miss Ruby’ butterfly bush, below), though I’ve seen these enough to recognize their elongated bodies and distinct flight.
So, this is all very confusing, except that I’m just bright enough to steer clear of the Mountain mint (Pycnanthemum virginianum) that is buzzing with all of the above, with dozens and probably hundreds of fierce looking, potentially stinging insects within a six by eight foot area of mint. No, I must retract that. I was determined to get a photo of the nasty looking black wasp (below), and it kept wandering to the wrong side of the blooms so I couldn’t get a clear photo of it. So, I lingered too long and too close, and that I wasn’t stung multiple times can only be attributed to dumb luck and clean living.
So, today there were numerous butterflies flitting about the garden, and abundant bees and assorted bee-like creatures buzzing about. There seemed to be more dragonflies than usual, but for a while I’ll be more cautious pronouncing the mores and lesses.