Tiny Inspirations Abound: Summer Visitors to our Urban Oasis

This is the beginning of something special…

Native bees feasting on Silphium perfoliatum.

Since last fall, we have been growing and installing plants native to Virginia into our landscaping. We kind of live in concrete urban crap (relatively speaking if you are a native pollinator) with invasive infested lots and woodlands, so creating a little native spot in the middle of it all is good for local pollinators and good for our souls. Pete has been really digging the cup plants and the tons of native bees constantly swarming around them. The behemoth stalks and bright yellow flowers also provide a valuable service hiding the house from the road giving its human inhabitants some much-needed privacy. Our work is beginning to pay off with very exciting results so far.

Great leopard moth (Hypercompe scribonia) chillin’ on our steps. Butterflies and Moths of North America Sighting 1131918.

It seems there is a new creature every day! We have recently attracted a ruby-throated hummingbird; the first Pete has ever seen here. She seems to stop by when I do not have a camera ready. Each day she checks the Monarda didyma, but I am afraid they are running out of juice!

There is a steady stream of butterflies and moths too. As part of our effort to document who and what is using our backyard habitat, I have been reporting butterfly and moth sightings to Butterflies and Moth of North America . This useful website has extensive species information, tons of high quality photographs, and a very responsive ID interface if you have a photograph and some additional basic information on the butterfly or moth you would like to have identified. The information you provide is also collected and recorded as a record for the species. I recently did this with a new-to-me moth called a great leopard moth. It seems to be fairly common in the eastern United States, but I had not come across it before. Cool.

The Litris spicata is banging right now and a few visitors have taken great delight in its endless wild purple flowers…

monarch butterfly

American painted lady

It is so important for any backyard habitat to not only provide nectar plants for butterflies and moths, but provide host plants for their caterpillars too. These little eggs were deposited about a week ago on the Baptisia australis. Not sure what they are, but it looks like some have hatched with no sign of a caterpillar, though they are incredibly tiny at this point and it may be difficult to find them. We hope to find more caterpillars calling our backyard habitat home.

Eggs from unidentified insect on Baptisia australis are on the set of leaves third from top.