One of Nature’s Mysteries to Solve

Hey there!

Maybe you’re good at identifying these little fliers. We aren’t, so we admit we had some help…

If you want to place a guess, put your answer in our comments, and we’ll check back later with the correct answer.

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At only about an inch long, skippers are tough to identify. If you get them sitting still and can magnify… See the dots on the wings? The Fiery Skippers have those. The males are orange with black spots and the females are browner, and have orange checks. Here’s another of the… (make a guess now!)

male. They frequent sunny, open areas and like to sip the nectar of swamp milkweed, knapweed, sneezeweed, asters and thistles. Their caterpillars–which are a greenish pink with a black head–eat leaves, and then when they want to rest, will roll the leaves and tie them closed so they can lay horizontally on the ground.

One of Nature’s Mysteries to Solve

Hey there!

If you came home and found your gardening this state, what would you think had happened?

Post your guesses the comments and I’ll check back later!

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You don’t suppose…

No. We have been found out! A reader made a correct guess–this, um, accident isn’t because a goldfinch landed on the top of a sunflower. It was, er…us.

 

Yes, we squirrels like sunflower seeds, too. They are a great source of protein and we just can’t seem to help ourselves!

Sorry to make you humans angry! Ms. Flora says to say they are a pretty flower!

 

Butterflies on your flowers means…

…caterpillars eating your their leaves. All around our neighborhood, we’re seeing eaten leaves.

On burdock.

On the coneflowers.

On pink turtleheads.

On dogbane.

And upon closer inspection, we found a few caterpillars, too.

The dogbane caterpillars were quite conspicuous in the protective webbing at the ends of the leaves. We’re not sure if this is Fall Webworm. They have the yellow body and the dots, so we’ll have to keep watch and see if they develop the hairs as the younger caterpillars grow and shed their skin.

Underneath a coneflower leaf, we discovered a clump of black spiky caterpillars hanging out.

After doing some looking around, Ms. Flora determined that they are likely Silvery Checkerspot caterpillars–which we’ve seen on the flowers! So that’s a good match. Check out Growing the Home Garden’s website for some photos of them as they grow.

Something concerns us though. Some of the flower gardeners who commented were ready to ‘get rid of’–kill–the caterpillars on their flowers. Sad. The way the insect populations are plummeting these days with pesticide use, nature needs every caterpillar out there. Many of these caterpillars never make it into their chrysalis because they are picked off by wrens and other alert, insect-eating birds to feed their young. We squirrels also, ahem, don’t mind a few insect snacks.

We hope a few more of you humans might be willing to accept a few bug-eaten plants to keep our world thriving.

Thirsty Thursday

Last week I prompted you folks to leave out water for your wild neighbors, but I forgot to mention that we squirrels have noticed that some of you humans are getting creative.

This here is a new style of watering dish for bees and other insects. The idea is that they won’t fall in and not be able to climb out. So far, we haven’t seen any insects watering here. And there are plenty in our neighborhood, before you ask.

Have our readers tried this? Have you seen insects at it? Please let us know!