The skippers are still sipping away!
This Zabulon Skipper is loving these butterfly bush flowers. Interesting how different the same skipper looks from two different angles.
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.
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.
The heat isn’t keeping these guys down!
Do you recognize this one?
Post your guesses in the comments, and we’ll check back later.
Hot days, and we squirrels are admitting the butterflies have us beat! They continue to keep up their strength by visiting the flowers you humans have planted in our neighborhood. Good for you in helping the insects this year!
Another clue photo, as we’ve mostly seen this butterfly with its wings spread while landing.
He’s had to share on this coneflower! This Silvery Checkerspot is a member of the skipper family and looks very similar to the Pearl Crescent. You need a good look at the hind wing to see the silvery marks along the outer edge.
Another way to help butterflies is by wetting bare ground to make pudding spots so they can collect the minerals and moisture they need. Maybe you can do double-duty by watering a tree. Even they are suffering in this heat.
No kidding, years ago, we’d see dozens of these big guys. This year, this tiger swallowtail is the first we’ve seen in this bushy garden. True, the these Joe Pye Weed flowers just began blooming, but the dogbane has been in flower for a month and attracting all kinds of bees… Just no butterflies.
What’s your swallowtail count?
Insects–including insect pollinators!–flock to milkweed!
Monarch laying her eggs.
The caterpillars will feed on the leaves and the butterflies on the nectar.
Large Milkweed bugs, which look like this as juveniles and…
and this as adults.
Aphids, which draw in…
Not to be confused with the Milkweed Leaf Beetle, which eats the leaves, not their pests.
Of course with all this bug activity, you will see spiders.
And even ants!
Of course, the insect most humans are interested in these days: Honeybees.
But don’t forget the native bumblebees!
There is room enough for both on these hundreds of little flowers!
Plant milkweed as an anchor for insects your garden!
Yes, pollinators have the support of a week dedicated to them, just like squirrels do! (That shows you how important they are. Squirrel Week IX was back in April when we were doing out Blogging From A to Z Challenge, so we, um, missed it.)
Pollinator Partnership sponsors this activity to coordinate events and raise awareness about the need for pollinator health.
We’ve tried to do that here, without any coordination, and we trust that our human readers are interested in keeping our natural world healthy, not just squirrels activities. We put out a bee and wasp quiz after featuring bees in 2016. This is a fun look at our most common bees and was a lot of work for Hickory to collect for a Mystery post, so we will just post that here for you to return to: One of Nature’s Mysteries to Solve — Bee Quiz.
Pollinators aren’t just bees…so maybe we will get together another post–quiz?– by the end of pollinator week. But for today, we have some bee identification resources for you.
In that bee quiz, we suggested using the Native Bees of North America on Bug Guide to identify your bees. We’ve found another site specific to Bumble Bees that is more detailed in breaking down each part of the bee that you need to look at to make an accurate identification: Bumble Bee Watch. You can even submit your bumblebee photos and go through the guided key to identify your local species.
We gave it a go, because Hickory and I have pretty good photos, right? Hmm. Take this group of the same bee foraging on a Purple Turtlehead.
We know the location, the date, the plant the bee is on. We have a great view of his side and tip of his abdomen. But the bee face is missing! And so is the very top of the bee’s thorax. And we can’t see how the yellow bands merge with the black ones, which can take many, many shapes. You need to have these bee parts to identify the bee!
Bumble Bee Watch has a very clear tips on how to photograph bees for identification. We get close enough–bumble bees are focused on getting their nectar and pollen supplies when they visit a flower, so don’t worry about being stung. But in the future, we will take more photos from different angles–especially if the bee is on the flower for as long as this one was!
Bumble Bee Watch has a nice gallery of dozens of bumblebees showing their identification features, flowers, and range. So even if you don’t submit a photo, you can learn a lot!
Have you tried to identify a bee? What resources did you use? We’re sure we haven’t found them all yet!