Competition for the flowers

Hickory and I were doing some butterfly watching on a lazy afternoon this week.

We noticed these insects take every opportunity they can to feed, and we assume this Pearl Crescent butterfly was happy to find one Butterfly Weed in bloom when the rest are just buds. But then we noticed another insect coming in on the left.

See him, the green fellow?

That’s a Cuckoo Wasp–a wasp for the love of acorns! We backed away. But did the Pearl Crescent leave?

No.

Hickory flicked his tail from a safe distance. “Guess that milkweed nectar is better than most.”

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Thirsty Thursday

Well, folks, it’s been a few years since this old squirrel has seen a good stand of Cardinal Flower, Lobelia cardinals. But I did this week.

Is that a pretty sight, or what? This of course, was down by the pond. Cardinal Flower is one of those plants that likes its feet–well, its roots–wet.

You humans like it for the red flowers, and so do the insects and  hummingbirds. Makes it easy to spot. However, pretty much only the hummingbirds are successful at getting the nectar from a Cardinal flower–or any of the Lobelia family for that matter.

Might be hard for you to tell, but this type of flower is one Miz Flora calls ‘tubular.’ Among all those fancy bits of petal, is a backend that is so long that it takes a hummingbird tongue to reach the nectar. Some of the buds there at the top are a sample of that distance.

This is a mighty beautiful plant, so much so that it has been picked to the point of disappearing. Please, if not for your friend Ol’ Wally here but also for the  hummingbirds, admire it with photos.

On a leaf

The Common Milkweed plants are mature, and the Monarchs are finding them. But have you noticed that these native wildflowers attract tons of bugs? A few years ago we showed many of them, and here are three from our recent visit.

A Carolina Mantis on milkweed leaf–an immature one, his wings are just forming.

Milkweed Leaf Beetle

Pearl Crescent

And here’s that Milkweed Community post in case you’d like to see more!

Here Comes the Sun!

Well, maybe it’s not the sun, but those ray petals look like it to us squirrels after days of rain. Mis Flora says a carpet of Green and Gold is a good post for squirrels and humans alike today.

Back in April we couldn’t find this wildflower blooming, so here it is for you today. And if you had any doubt that Green and Gold would spread in your garden’s shady areas, take a look at this carpet!

Read more about it on our April 8th ‘G’ post.

Y is for Yarrow

Five years ago on The Squirrel Nutwork, we featured Common Yarrow for Y day. Back then we were just building our photo files and it was spring and the local yarrow hadn’t bloomed. So our post–in which all four of us squirrels weighed in, see it here!–was of the feathery leaves, which are certainly beautiful, but we thought you’d like to see the flowers!

The native yarrow is white.

Usually, Miz Flora tells me. Apparently, she says, this plant was known across Europe and given its Latin name Achillea millefolium, by Linneaus. ‘Millefolium’ means ‘thousand leaves’ which it certainly does have. When explorers crossed North America, they found a yarrow they assumed was related. Because the leaves were fuzzier, another botanist, Thomas Nuttall, named it Achillea lanulosa, which is Latin for ‘wooly.’ Today, botanists group the yarrows together as one genus…although humans sometimes find pale pink flowers among the western, fuzzy-leaved yarrows.

Of course you humans have taken the plant and done all kinds of things to it to make it ‘prettier,’ so don’t be surprised if you go to a garden center and find yarrows blooming in colors from pink to red to purple and yellow to deep gold.

Flowers can be many things to many people!

T is for Turtlehead

Just take a look at these funny flowers!

Turtleheads are a fun plant that love moist soil. The little tricksters are designed so a bee gets completely brushed with pollen getting into the nectar at the bottom.

To see the bee completely inching in, hop back to our post entitled Getting Into Pink Turtleheads!

Just a side note that not all turtleheads are pink. The native ones are white, but we haven’t seen those in our suburban neighborhood. A human planted these showy pink ones.

One of Nature’s Mysteries to Solve

Hey there!

Have you seen this growing about?

Let us know in the comments, and I’ll return later with your answer!

~~~

As one of our regular readers said, the important thing to know about this plant is you can never get rid of it! So true.

Creeping Charlie, or what Miz Flora’s wildflower guide calls Gill-Over-The Ground, Glechoma hederacea, is a member of the Mint Family. (Bet you can see the square stem!) Rather than standing upright, it creeps, putting down new roots where the nodes touch moist ground.

The blue or violet flowers bloom in spring and early summer, and because it’s a common plant, they feed bees while the other plants are getting going. The blossoms are quite small–meaning we had a really touch time getting a close photo.

But we are sure you can find one in your lawn to check them out!

Q is for Queen Anne’s Lace

By branching out of our season, we squirrels have a few more choices of plants to use for those difficult letters!

Queen Anne’s Lace, Daucus carota, is a summer-bloomer, a wildflower brought over from Europe. It supposedly is named for Queen Anne of England who was also a lacemaker. In North America, it can go quite wild and take over a field, but you humans probably see it most often lining rural roads.

The ‘jewel’ in the crown of flowers is simply another flower, but along with the naming story from Queen Anne, people say it’s a drop of blood she shed when she pricked herself!