Welcome! This blog is mostly about butterfly gardening, but other types of plants and gardens, as well as
other wildlife is blogged about too.
There’s a pond near our house that I stop by sometimes when walking my dog. There are many different birds all around it.
Today, I saw some geese – and a nest with eggs in it!
Here are the eggs:
I don’t know what kind of bird this was:
My one Pipevine Swallowtail pupa – from the only Pipevine Swallowtails caterpillars that I’ve ever had – that I took such good care of over the winter – my dog attacked and possibly ate. Killed anyway. It was in the jar shown a couple of posts ago. She’s not my best friend today.
My wild violets – Viola sororia – are blooming! They are so pretty when blooming in large groups. Unfortunately this year, since I’m behind in getting the garden cleaned up, some of them are covered by dead plant debris from last year. I got some uncovered over the weekend though:
My Bird’s Foot Violets (Viola pedata) are blooming too! Something has eaten some of them though.
See close up – you can see where the flowers were bitten off the stems:
I also have a prairie violet Viola pedatifida (I think that’s the right spelling), last I checked though it was just barely coming up, definitely no blooms yet.
Someone asked about how I keep my pupa over the winter. I used to have an enclosure that I could raise caterpillars in and let them pupate also. It started falling apart and I don’t have a new one yet. I don’t really raise that many anymore anyway, so I don’t have that many to overwinter.
The ones I do have I keep in canning jars, and use mosquito netting to allow air circulation but to keep predators out. They’ve usually pupated on sticks which I can then break to fit into the jar. And I keep the jar outside, usually close to the house.
Here is a picture of one jar from the top:
Here is just the lid and the netting:
The netting is the kind with only really small holes. Some parasitic wasps are very small and it has to be able to keep them out. Here’s a close up the netting, my camera doesn’t do close ups of tiny things though, so it may not be that helpful:
I had a couple of Black Swallowtails who I had pupating over the winter emerge today!
I think it is a bit early for them in this area though – I don’t know if they will do very well. Its been rainy here too.
Here they are in the jar they pupated in:
Here’s the first one after I got it out:
Here they both are:
They were very small, which isn’t that unusual for butterflies that started pupating late in the previous season.
Its been here for a few days now, but I’m just starting to feel it.
I saw a couple of butterflies today, a white and a sulfur – I couldn’t tell the species. At first I thought it was a Little sulfur (Eurema lisa) then realized it was too big. Couldn’t get any closer.
Daffodils and forsythias aren’t native to this region and have no benefit for butterflies but I still like them. They are so pretty this time of year:
A big thing I’m trying to figure out for this year is the puppy. We have our yard fenced in from her – but now my gardens aren’t safe! I’m afraid she will trample a caterpillar or break off some plant just as its coming up. I need to find some cheap way to enclose the garden area that doesn’t look bad.
We saw all sorts of other wildlife while at the Virgin Islands too: reptiles, birds. fish, turtles, etc.
We especially saw lots of iguanas! There were some at the resort we stayed at and we saw a lot at Coral World too.
There were some other lizards there too – I don’t know what species they are. I suspect the one is either the same as those you see in Florida everywhere or at least a similar species:
But then we saw this type too, at Coral World:
Also at Coral World we saw green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas) and some Red-Footed Tortoises (Geochelone carbonaria). Red-Footed Tortoises were brought to the Virgin Islands hundreds of years ago from South America.
They also had lorikeets which are nectar-eating birds. I don’t think they are native to the Virgin Islands, but they were really pretty. You could buy little cups of nectar for them and they land all over you to feed!
At St. John we saw this really pretty hermit crab – it was really close to the road and we were afraid it would get ran over. We realized afterward that we had no idea which way it was trying to go so we put it back where we found it:
At Bolongo Bay Beach (where we stayed) we saw some cute little crabs early in the morning running in and out of little holes in the sand. I managed to get one to sit still long enough to get a good picture of it:
Altogether it was a very nice vacation! I hope to go again someday, do some more snorkeling and hopefully see more butterflies!
In addition to the butterflies, we were also lucky to see some other wildlife while visiting The Butterfly Farm at St. Thomas.
Down in a couple of the leaves – of I think the same plant that might be a skipper host plant – we found some tiny little frogs! I don’t how clear it is in this picture, you will probably need to click on it to see the bigger version:
We also saw this really cool spider:
One day at St. John we also saw a large spider – does anyone know – are these both orb weaver spiders?
There is a hummingbird species that is common on the Virgin Islands too. We saw quite a few of them around, but only once, at The Butterfly Farm, was I able to get a picture of one:
I don’t know if there are other hummingbird species on the Virgin Islands or not.
Next week – other reptiles, birds and more that we saw on the Virgin Islands!
While were visiting The Butterfly Farm at St. Thomas Carmen also showed us a passion vine they had growing there:
In general, passion vine is used as a host plant in the Virgin Islands by the Gulf Fritillary (Agraulis vanillae) and the Zebra Longwing (Heliconius charitonius). I don’t know which particular species this passion vine is or if they both use it or not.
I found a few small caterpillars on it – maybe someone can tell which butterfly species it is? Or maybe its still too small to tell yet:
I believe Carmen said this was another species of passion vine:
Here is a close up of one of the leaves:
At any rate I found a few eggs on it:
I think this plant was also a host plant:
This was a picture I took of a skipper caterpillar – its way out of focus, but someone may be able to identify it – I think it may have been on the plant pictured above:
Here is an egg, which I believe was also on the same plant:
Next week – other wildlife from The Butterfly Farm!
I mentioned last time that Carmen, who works at The Butterfly Farm at St. Thomas, very patiently showed me around and answered all of the questions I had about the host plants they had growing in their outside butterfly garden.
They had the following milkweed plant growing there – I don’t know what species it is though – anyone know?
Here’s the whole plant from a distance – notice the cruise ship in the background! The Butterfly Farm is right by the Cruise Ship Dock at Havensight Mall:
I saw a Monarch on another milkweed and couldn’t help but notice that it looks very different from the ones in my garden. In fact, I even wondered if it was actually a Monarch. I believe Queens and Soldiers have 3 sets of filaments though. I can’t imagine what else it would be. Does anyone know why it looks so different from the ones around the St. Louis area?
Virgin Islands Monarch caterpillar:
A picture of one of mine:
They also had a pipevine growing for the Polydamas Swallowtail (Battus polydamas), although there were no caterpillars on it. The pipevine had not been growing for long though, The Butterfly Farm has only been there a year or so. It took around 4 years before any Pipevine Swallowtails laid eggs on my pipevine.
Does anyone know what species of Aristolochia this is:
Next week – more host plants from The Butterfly Farm!