Lack of Larvae

I have these:

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There’s one that I’ve seen patrolling the yard, flitting from one end of the yard to the other, stopping occasionally to lay eggs on the butterfly plant. She chases off any interlopers. Butterfly fights are interesting to watch. They look like leaves caught in a whirlwind. It’s hard to believe they’re battles for territory.

I was hoping for more of these:

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But this is only the second one I’ve seen this season.

Fennel Flower

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I got a three-inch pot of fennel last year because I wanted more butterfly food. I haven’t had any swallowtails yet, but the plant has gone from three inches to three feet with tons of umbrels. I’m hoping for tons of seeds to go with the many flowers. I’ll spread the seed all over and hope enough comes up to lure in a few swallowtails. They’ll be welcome to eat it all. I’ve never eaten fennel. I had a dreadful experience with anisette and since then I avoid all things licorice-like.

Wrestling with time

I am constantly wrestling with getting the most out of my time. I am fully aware of the fact that the life I have may end without notice, and will without doubt change drastically, also without notice. And nothing makes me happier than being able to do two things at once; dry my hair and do leg lifts, file my nails at stop lights, edit photos during commercials when we’re watching tv. Getting my exercising done while I’m at work has been my latest and I have to admit that I’m exercising much more regularly and feel better for it.

This weekend I got a couple of repair jobs done for people at work. Annnnnd my reward for finally finishing these projects was more repairs. Not my favorite.

I was so excited to get all my pending work done. The two repairs and a simple copper ring. Everything turned out to be more work than anticipated, but turned out better than expected as well.

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Did you ever have a project that had you stuck? I was stuck on one of my repairs. My customer is a bit of an anglophile. She’s been to Britain several time and loves it. I wanted to incorporate a sixpence into a bracelet I was making from beads that came from a broken necklace and just couldn’t come up with a way to do it that I was happy with. I wanted to finish it, but every time I thought about it my mind ran up against that bit of it. Finally I just got out the piece and laid out the tools and that let me carry on to the next step. But for a while it was like running into a dead end.

At least I got a lot done this weekend. I got a few extra hours off on Friday and it was wonderful. I actually sat outside in the afternoon and watched the butterflies fly by. There was one very worn looking gulf fritillary flitting about. I hope she found the plants she needed. They’re there. I’ve been very careful about removing the passion flower vines. They’ve come up from seed all over, but not necessarily in places that I want them. I check the vines for eggs and larvae before I take them out. I thought “butterfly seeds” instead of eggs when I was writing that sentence in my head.

Stealth Butterfly

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Found a caterpillar eating blossom of my gaillardia. It’s probably a moth, which I think of as stealth butterflies. I spent some time poking around on the web to see if I could find out what exactly it was, but “moth” covers so much ground I wasn’t able to narrow it down. I thought about removing it, but wildlife here has had such a hard time for the last couple of years, I just left it.

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The gulf fritillary larvae are doing pretty well. I moved them from the vine that they’d eaten all the leaves off of to another one.

My garden is really small. I have a long, narrow patio and postage stamp front yard. I used to think of my garden as this little cup of life in the desert of suburbia. Most of the houses around us have yards that are aimed at being the least possible maintenance. But lately I’ve come to realize how much the cup overfloweth. The things that I put in the garden are only a part of what happens there. There are the bees that come and drink the water from my water pot. The birds that come for both food and water. The bugs that eat the plants, the lizards that eat the bugs, the rat bastard squirrel that ate all my macadamia nuts last year.

There are a few who have yard like that in my neighborhood and I wonder how much wildlife depends on these tiny oases. How many creatures pass through every day? I get the feeling that spaces like these are going to be more important at more people are squeezed in and everything else is squeezed out.

Banner Year in Butterflies

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I was sitting on the patio, taking advantage of the wonderful weather we were having, when I looked at the passion flower vine and thought that it looked a little spiky. I got up to take a closer look and found that it wasn’t the vine that was spiky. This one vine had six gulf fritillary larvae on it.

After the drought and the severe cutbacks in landscape watering the bugs finally have something to eat again and if the number of caterpillars in my yard are any indication, it’s going to be a banner year for butterflies.

Sunny Saturday

Went a little nuts this weekend. It was the first weekend since before Thanksgiving where it was both sunny and I didn’t have anything else that needed doing, so I spent quite a bit of time outside.

I tend to buy plants and hang onto them for a while before planting. I’m waiting for better weather or trying to come up with the perfect spot for a particular plant. I end up with up with a lot things in plant limbo; waiting for permanent homes. With the break in the rain I decided to just do it. Stop ruminating and get on with it.

I’ve been collecting succulents with interesting foliage colors for the past year, trying to get some color in the yard even when nothing is blooming. Crassula campfire is going to have a big part in the garden. It’s colors are so vivid I ended up getting several plants. I bought some at the local nursery that were very overgrown for the pot they were in. While they weren’t very pretty the way they were, I was able to cut them back and use the cut stems for more starts.

I took advantage of the sun and the extra day off and got almost all of my plants-in-waiting planted. I wandered around the yard deciding what I wanted to put where and when I made a decision grabbed my Japanese gardening knife, dug a hole and planted. The plants I managed to get into the ground before Thanksgiving encouraged me. They’ve more than doubled in size since I planted them. With all the rain we’ve gotten and are continuing to get, there isn’t going to be a better time to plant. Things will have time to develop a good root system before the heat of summer comes along to challenge them.

I spent a lot of time pulling up hardy geranium seedlings in the front yard. Until this year it had been fairly well behaved. It had come up from seed in a few places, but it was pretty easy to get rid of if it showed up someplace I didn’t want it. This year it’s coming up everywhere. It would smother everything if I let it. I’m not nearly done trying to tame it, but at least I cleared enough space for a few other things.

As I worked around the yard I noticed that I have a positive infestation of monarch larvae.

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I’m delighted. These guys are the reason I let the butterfly weed grow where ever it pops up.

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After the rain

It rained last Friday. I swear these days whenever it rains I can hear all the plants breath a sigh of relief as their roots suck up the much-needed moisture and their leaves expand.

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Sunday was almost warm and the winds had died down so I worked outside for a while. It was nice to spend some time outside.

I had a follower while I was working. This little one followed me from one end of the patio to the other as I went about my chores. I finally gave in and put some food down.

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I noticed some holes on the butterfly plant and found the responsible party

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Most of the plants I keep as butterfly larvae food sources are looking a little ragged right now. Something I don’t mind at all. I have fennel and parsley, but haven’t had any larvae show up on them yet.

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