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rainbowgardener
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bird and butterfly garden

My bird and butterfly garden is looking so beautiful right now! (Wish I could show you a couple pictures, but my partner is away with the camera). It looks like one of those lush, floriferous cottage gardens you see in pictures. It is two 20' by 3' strips with a path down the middle, leading to an arch, which leads to the wild hillside part of the yard.

Blooming in it right now are trumpet honeysuckle on the arch, anise hyssop, black eyed susans, purple perennial salvia, red annual salvia, lots of gayfeather, bee balm, obedient plant, whorled and regular milkweed, tansy, iron weed, joe pye weed, purple sedum, velvetleaf, alyssum, broom corn ... Everything is big and flowering madly with all the rain we've had. And it has a finch feeder and a humming bird feeder on shepherd's hooks stuck in with the flowers, so it has brilliant goldfinches and hummingbirds darting in and out.

The ironweed is amazing, so tall and such an intense saturated purple color and swarming with life. I don't usually see it on the list of things to attract beneficial insects, but clearly it is - another one of those things with nectar in tiny florets. It had more honeybees working it than I have seen all season (completely ignoring the anise hyssop, which usually they like), a couple sizes of bumblebees, a bunch of little things that I think were hover flies (hard to ID, since they never hold still). And a weird creature that I will try to identify.

I'm back having found my insect, this guy:

Image
https://www.uark.edu/ua/arthmuse/images/ ... lmothb.jpg

Ailanthus webworm moth:

In their native habitats of Central and South America, Ailanthus webworm caterpillars build communal webs in native trees of the family Simaroubaceae. The species has spread north through much of the United States, where its caterpillars utilize primarily an introduced simaroub, Tree of Heaven, Ailanthus altissima. Tree of Heaven is native to North China. It was planted extensively in Europe in the 1700s and soon made its way to North America, where it is now naturalized along fences, roads, and in waste places. The colorful adult Ailanthus webworm moths are pollinators, often seen visiting flowers of many different species during daytime.
https://www.uark.edu/ua/arthmuse/ailamoth.html

I do have tree of heaven on my property, though I'm gradually trying to get rid of it. My specimen of this moth was almost an inch long, brilliantly colored, almost looked shiny where the sun hit it. Because it keeps its wings so tight to its body and rolled in, it looked more like a caterpillar at first, until I looked closely and saw that they were wings and it had legs.

Interesting that a south American moth has learned to utilize a Chinese tree! I guess it worked because the Chinese tree is in the same family as the South American native tree they evolved with. When I saw it, it was doing the pollinator thing, visiting the ironweed flowers.
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applestar
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Re: bird and butterfly garden

Sounds wonderful! Be sure to take some pics when you get your turn with the camera :D
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rainbowgardener
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Re: bird and butterfly garden

Have you seen this moth before?
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applestar
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Re: bird and butterfly garden

I don't think so. If I had, I never photographed it or ID'd it because it's not familiar to me.

(It looks a bit like one of those colorful leaf/tree/plant hoppers and I have a vague recollection of saying "Oooh! what are YOU?" to something. But I don't know if it was this one.)

The fact that its larval host is the Tree of Heaven kind of makes you forgive its caterpillars being a webworm, doesn't it? 8)
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rainbowgardener
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Re: bird and butterfly garden

The fact that its larval host is the Tree of Heaven kind of makes you forgive its caterpillars being a webworm, doesn't it? :)

Indeed .... it can have all the Trees of Heaven it wants! It almost makes me re-think getting rid of all of them though, if that would mean losing this colorful pollinator.
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Rairdog
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Re: bird and butterfly garden

I have the Tree of Heaven and the moths.
Image

One of my bees on a Zinnia
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rainbowgardener
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Re: bird and butterfly garden

Here's a couple pics of that garden:

Image


Image
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applestar
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Re: bird and butterfly garden

Rairdog and rainbowgardener -- you two are making me WANT a tree of heaven :roll: :lol:

Rainbow, that looks fantastic! I see you still have a velvetleaf standing. 8)
Also, I know you said the ironweed was tall but wow. And the deep purple color of the flowers is amazing. Hmmm.... I guess a I would get NY Ironweed for my local native. Adding it to my list. :wink:
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rainbowgardener
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Re: bird and butterfly garden

Yes, if you look at the picture enlarged, you can see that one of the velvetleaf leaves has a leafminer squiggle on it. That's why I leave some around.
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applestar
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Re: bird and butterfly garden

Hmmm. not sure if I should post this here or start a separate thread....

I planted Lady in Red salvias that I started from seeds in my front porch side border. I decided to have fun with this bed and alternated flowers with overwintered hot peppers. It was a bit of an experiment too because this is the NW side of the house and would be considered semi-shade, but also gets extremely hot and dry due to late PM sun and no down spouts.

Earlier in spring when you would be thinking about what to plant, this bed is actually full shade because of the lower angle of the sun. This can trick you into thinking shade plants. I've tried the usual semi-shade to shade plants and failed miserably. Then tried plants like wax begonias, and THEY wilted from lack of moisture. This bed has always been a bit of a problem child :?

This year, I'm trying Lady in Red salvias, Black Prince snapdragons, and Italian Dulce Flambé petunias -- all started from seeds. I alternated with overwintered hot peppers (Aji Hot Lemon/Lemondrop, Scotch Bonnet, highly variegated Fish, Peppadew, less variegated Fish). The hot peppers are doing great here, loaded with fruits and they are starting to color up (Lemondrop has been doing that all season). I do think I found the answer. They (will) resist being chewed up by the bunnies nicely. I also ended up with a volunteer ornamental gourd.
image.jpg
The other day, I looked out the front window and saw a hummingbird working all of the salvia blossoms. Where the salvias have started growing into the red Peppadew peppers, the hummer was scrabbling with it's feet against the smooth pepper fruits while hovering. O:)
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rainbowgardener
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Re: bird and butterfly garden

beautiful! It looks like you found the answer, everything looks like it is doing really well.
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: https://twitter.com/CherokeeGroupSC Facebook page I manage for them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/65310596576/ Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration



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