Thursday, July 23, 2015

Raising Monarchs - Encouraged Egg Laying (How To Have Monarch Butterflie...

Friday, March 6, 2015

New experiences ~

     I recently decided to expand my knowledge of butterflies thanks to a wonderful woman that I know.  She is very knowledgeable about them and has many connections with others who do also.
I went on my first butterfly count with her early this summer.  Although we didn't see very many and the conditions weren't the best in some of the parks we visited, it was still a wonderful experience and was fun to hang out with someone who enjoys these beautiful winged creatures as much, if not more than I do.  She is also involved with the local Audubon Society and is very knowledgeable about birds as well.  She is always so interesting to listen to and talk to. 
Today we went to a nature center and listened to the local Butterfly expert "Dick Smith" give a presentation on the butterflies we might find at that particular center, followed by a Butterfly walk.  It was quite hot and humid out today but thanks to a few shady areas and a few brief gust of wind, we made it through.  The walk was attended by 5 men and 4 women.  Dick was our leader and was accompanied by a entomologist Richard, who also dabbles in other areas such as; fungi, mosses, plants, etc...  The majority of butterflies that we spotted we types of skippers.  Skippers are the tiny little butterflies that some people think are moths.  Some of them are easy to identify, but many of them are not.  They can have as such subtle differences in the number of spots, lines, mottling, etc...  I have decided that I'm really going to work on trying though!  The walk was through a preserved area that at this time of year, very few wild flowers were blooming.  There was a lot of Blazing Star, which is a wild variety of Liatris.  The Liatris I have in my gardens bloomed earlier this summer and seemed to attract quite a few butterflies as well.  The path was mostly dirt and rocks, and very dry. We came prepared with water to drink, hats, sunglasses, cameras, binoculars, and bug repellent.  I think I will be asking for a nice pair of butterfly binoculars for Christmas this year!  I mostly used my camera to spot things but had a hard time focusing in on some of the smaller butterflies.  All in all, it was a great day.  Earlier in the day, since we got to the nature center a little early, Pat (my butterfly friend) mentioned that there was a unusual bird that was spotted at another nature center not to far away.  So we decided to go to see if it was still around.  I enjoy birds as well and was kind of interested to see what this bird would look like.  The Nature Center was beautiful as were that grounds.  The girl at the information desk showed us a path to take to a nice blind, where we sat and enjoyed watching a chickadee, nuthatch, titmouse, a couple chipmunks, and a new bird for me ~ an Oven Bird.  There were a couple of them feeding on the ground.  It's so nice to see these centers preserving areas for the wildlife. 
     One of my biggest pet peeves is seeing "nature habitat" areas not taken care of properly.  There is a local park that I've been to often and found many monarch eggs and caterpillars over the past few years.  The first year I discovered it was by accident.  My son had just picked up playing disc golf, so we googled parks that had disc golf courses.  We stopped by on our way home from visiting my family, just to check it out.  There is a large pond for fishing at the park, so I wanted to go look for milkweed, while my some threw a few discs.  There was  a lot of it around the pond, common milkweed and swamp milkweed.  I didn't have anything to collect the eggs or cats in, so I told my son we'd come back the next day.  He could practice the disc golf and I'd go looking for the eggs and cats.  When we got there the next morning, I was shocked to find that someone had weed whacked most of the milkweed down.  They had to have just done it, so I went around picking up the cut off stalks of milkweed and checked for any eggs or cats.  I found around 66 eggs and a few cats on what had been cut down.  I was furious.  I sent an email out to the parks services about it but never heard back.  The next couple of years seemed to be better.  This year I stopped by only to find that they went from weed whacking it, to mowing it down with one of those huge mowers with the arms.  Arrrggghhh!!!!  This is supposed to be a "natural habitat".  This time, I am going to do more that write an email.  The county I live in, even mowed down all the milkweed along the road I live on while I was away on vacation this year ~ double Arrrggghhh!!!!
Moral of the story ~ we need to start planting more milkweed and stop people from cutting it down.  On that note ~ I think I've rambled on enough for one evening.  I will try to upload a few pictures from my adventures today.  Take care and thanks for stopping by!


The birds have been busy emptying my feeders this winter and with all this snow, it's been tricky keeping them filled.  I have been slacking on putting out the suet cakes, so I haven't seen many woodpeckers lately.  Guess I'd better get on that.  I'm always curious why the the birds come out in droves when it is snowing or blustery outside.  This past storm I set out a tray of seed on my deck and within minutes, there were plenty of birds filling their little bellies.  Most of the photos I've taken recently have been shot through my kitchen windows.  I'll be glad when it warms up enough to sit outside and take them.  I've also heard of a pair of bald eagles that have been spotted several times in a field nearby, that I can't wait to try to get photos of.    Here are a few of the bird that have visited my feeders recently.  Nothing unusual but they are still beautiful birds!

Female Northern Cardinal

Male Northern Cardinal

Dark Junco


Tufted Titmouse

Tufted Titmouse

Male Norther Cardinal

Female Northern Cardinal

Female Northern Cardinal

Blue Jay


Thanks for visiting!

Good news for the Monarch Butterfly

It's been a LONG winter and spring can't come soon enough. The temperatures in Maryland this winter, have been unbelievably bone chilling.  Although, I'm sure they don't even compare with the weather they've been having in Boston.  I guess I should count my blessings!   I am anxious to start planting in my gardens and enjoying the beautiful butterflies that will visit. The numbers of butterflies last year were really low, in part due to the previous years winter.  I hope that this years winter won't make an even bigger drop in their numbers.   I can hardly wait to go on my monarch egg and caterpillar hunts with my Mom and sharing my passion with my family, friends, and patients.  There has been some great progress when it comes to trying to save the monarch butterfly from demise that I would like to share with you.  Even the government has gotten involved.  Here is an interesting link telling just how!

You can do your part as well by planting milkweed in your yard, gardens, or evening in your child's school's gardens.  Local parks are also great for starting butterfly gardens to help.  If you are having trouble finding milkweed seeds or plants, check out or
There are plenty of varieties to choose from that would look beautiful in any garden.


                                                              GOT MILKWEED?

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Scarlet Tanager

One evening, as I opened my mudroom door to toss something into the recycling bin in my garage, I saw something fly past me.  At first I thought it was a goldfinch that had gotten trapped.  I of course, grabbed my camera. Upon closer inspection, I realized that it wasn't a goldfinch after all.  So I got out my bird guide and searched until I found out what it was.  It was a Scarlet Tanager!  I immediately closed my garage door and ran to call my neighbor who loves birds as well.  She came right over and we just watched and took photos, while my 19 year old son, thought we were nuts!  Here are a few shots ~

After the photo shoot, we opened the garage door and waited, and waited, and waited...
finally we decided that it would leave when it was ready.
It found a comfy spot to rest on an old antique bicycle that was hanging from the ceiling.
By morning, it was gone and I haven't seen it since.
It was quite a treat to see though ~ another check in my bird book!!!
Thanks for visiting ~ and keep your eyes open ~ and maybe your garage doors too!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Monarch rearing

I have started my monarch rearing for this year.  I was lucky enough to find 9 eggs so far, one on a milkweed plant down my road and the rest on the milkweed in my yard.  I was also lucky enough to be able to video one of the eggs hatching!  Here is a link to my video on youtube and a few photos.

I was very upset to find that the county mowed down all the milkweed along the road I live on a few days ago.  There must have been at least 30 plants.  If it starts coming back up in time for the monarchs to use it, I will put signs in front of it ~ PLEASE DO NOT MOW DOWN THE MILKWEED.  I was actually kind of sick to the stomach when I first noticed it.  They have no idea how important milkweed is to saving the monarch population that migrates to Mexico.  Even more importantly in my area, as the ones that hatch in this area are the 4th generation that do the migrating.  So if you see milkweed growing in you yard or on your road, do whatever you can to protect it! 
Thank you for visiting ~ and plant some milkweed!

Viceroy and other butterflies ~

A few days ago, I was sitting on my front porch, drinking my coffee, enjoying watching a few butterflies on one of my butterfly bushes, when I notice what I thought was a monarch on it.  I grabbed my camera and when I got closer, I realized it wasn't a monarch at all.  I was a Viceroy!  The very first one I have ever seen, other than at a butterfly house.  I also saw two of them the next day at a little park about 10 miles away, that has a naturalized butterfly area.  There really seems to be a huge decrease in the number of butterflies I am seeing in my yard so far this year.
Today I saw three Tiger Swallowtails, a few skippers, and a few Clearwing hummingbird moths on my largest butterfly bush ~ in the past, I have had as many as a dozen Swallowtails on it at one time.


Great Spangled Frittilary

Red spotted purple

Black Swallowtail ~ male

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

Black Swallowtail ~ male

Eastern tailed blues


Clearwing hummingbird moths ~ multi-tasking!

Red spotted purple

Clearwing hummingbird moth

Silver spotted skipper

Silver spotted skipper

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail ~ female

Fiery skipper

Eastern tailed blue

Clearwing hummingbird moth

Easter Tiger Swallowtail ~ male

Eastern tailed blue

Eastern tailed blue

This is a garden art deal I purchased at my favorite nursery.
I had been noticing it for years and happened to mention how much I liked it to the gal behind the register.  She looked for a price tag but couldn't find one.  It definitely had some wear (Patina) on it, which gave it a little more character.  She said she'd give it to me for $10.  I couldn't pass it up!
Now it rests in the upper part of my backyard, in the area I let go wild,  throw in some divided plants and wildflower seeds.
Thanks for visiting !