What's on My Food?

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Sunday, May 16, 2010

Better Than Drugs

Hi Boys and Girls!

Two posts in as many days! Who would have thunk?? Well, I just have to share some of the joy of my garden wilderness with you.

This morning was a ho-hum awakening...I was thinking of all I had to do...and that really bummed me out. So, I made my tea (Zhi, of course...http://www.zhitea.com/) and stepped outside to enjoy the morning. The birds needed some sunflower seeds so I proceeded to do that little chore. While I was at one feeder, I noticed the fennel bush. It was loaded with caterpillars!
Well, seeing these little puppies perked me right up! I ran into the house and grabbed my wonderful new camera...Panasonic Lumix 12x http://amzn.com/B001QFZMCO
I just started shooting thinking one or two would come out. Here are a couple more.

This is the Black Swallowtail caterpillar.

Where is this guy going on the right? I think he wants to make his cacoon. Catterpillars feed on leaves of specific plants for their development. These fellas are on fennel. But they also love dill, carrot, parsnip and parsley.

This little guy above is forming his cacoon. He was still moving about and I was captivated with the activity. I must have watched him for a full 5 minutes! Tomorrow, he will be motionless and transforming himself into this.
I just missed him coming out. However, I watched as this Black Swallowtail slowly flapped his wings to warm up. Butterflies are cold-blooded and must warm their bodies before they can fly. They do this by basking in the sun and by beating their wings. This guy was drying off...he was just reborn.

Another fella wreaking havoc in the garden is the Gulf Fritillary http://www.butterfliesandmoths.org/species?l=1664
I don't mind. They are beautiful. Well, this guy isn't so cute yet. Just wait until he and 50 of his cousins eat my Passion Flower vine to thin stalks!

Gulf Fritillary larva eating the Passion vine.
This is a good thing. This plant is the host plant for the Gulf Fritillary. These babies will eat every leaf off this plant but they will not kill it. When they become butterflies, they eat the nectar of the passion flower. So, the Passion Flower does double duty. Photo courtesy of http://www.thegardenhelper.com/

So, you must know by now that I plant things for the butterflies, humming birds and any other little creature that will visit my garden. We have mostly Texas Natives. After spending about 30 minutes watching all the life in my Texas Wildscape, I decided I better get back to mine. But, as I was walking back towards the house, I captured this little guy getting his minute-by-minute nourishment.

Do you want to see life in action? Do you need a few minutes each day to let your worries fade away? This is how you do it. Buy one plant that is a host plant for a butterfly. Here are some choices: Blue Mist flower; Lantana; Passion Flower; Mexican mint marigold; Butterfly bush. Plant in a pot twice the size of the plant and use good soil such as Lady Bug Potting Soil http://www.ladybugbrand.com/soils.htm.  You can find this at nursuries or feed stores.Place your plant in a sunny spot on your porch or patio. Do not spray with pesticides. Don't overwater. If you stick your finger in the pot and the soil is moist, the plant does not need water. You will attract hummingbirds to the blooms. You will have butterflies too. Check out more information by reading A Field Guide to Butterflies of Texas by Raymond W. Neck. http://www.amazon.com/Texas-Butterflies-Moths-Introduction-Familiar/dp/1583553681/ref=pd_cp_b_1

Good luck! Give yourself a real treat and plant a host plant for butterflies...even if you plant basil and let it go to seed, it will flower and attract butterflies! Give it a try...what have you got to lose but stress?
Until next time...happy planting!

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