There are currently three Gulf Fritillary Agraulis vanillae caterpillars on the Oaklandia Passionflower Passiflora parritae x tarminiana‘Oaklandia’ ! This is an awesome event because we saw none on the vine for the past three years, although we often observed a female Gulf Fritillary laying eggs on the vine. I suspect that spiders got to the tiny larvae. Sadly, two summers ago I spotted several tiny dead larvae stuck in spider webs next to the pot where the vine is growing. T
Yesterday I observed this fascinating and humorous interaction between a hungry Northern Mockingbird fledgling and its mother. First I saw the fledgling land in one of the plant beds, and then it flew to a nearby large pot containing a Blue Blossom Ceanothus Ceanothus thyrsiflorus. As the fledgling quietly perched on the rim of the pot, its mother appeared with a blueberry in her beak. The fledgling quickly devoured the berry. We have a small Sunshine Blueberry shrub a few fe
We were honored again with a visit from a mama monarch yesterday. After resting on the Chiapas salvia for a while, she made her rounds of the milkweed plants, laying eggs on them. Although our days have been very cloudy for almost a week, we usually have sunny breezy afternoons. And that's when the butterflies appear, at least one monarch per day. Usually there are also Cabbage Whites, Umber Skippers and the occasional, elusive Anise Swallowtail. How wonderful to be blessed w
And... they're back! At first I thought this was a digger bee, but the antennae are so long. I didn't dare to hope, but sure enough, this is indeed a male Summer Long-horned Bee Melissodes robustior. See the yellow marking on the lower part of his face. And such long antennae. Their preferred flowers for pollen are sunflowers, cosmos, and tickseed such as this Coreopsis Big Bang Cosmic Evolution.
It's always such a treat to spot native butterflies in the garden. Most of them are so small and blend in with the plants, that the only way you'll notice them is by patiently waiting and spotting movement. Such was the case with this Gray Hairstreak butterfly Strymon melinus pudica. I was observing bees on the Seacliff buckwheat Eriogonum parvifolium flower heads, when the hairstreak fluttered by, landing on the buckwheat. The hairstreak stayed a while on the buckwheat for i
What a wonderful surprise to discover this male monarch visiting our garden! We first noticed him sipping the nectar from several flower heads of red valerian plants growing near our kitchen door. By the time I got my camera, he was happily flying in the breeze. And then he landed on the stalk of a naked buckwheat plant. You can see that his left wing isn't perfect, a little crumpled on the bottom third of it. Fortunately it doesn't affect his ability to fly or balance.
Some of the milkweed plants have had a chance to produce new leaves after the onslaught of monarch caterpillars last month. Mama monarch's efforts are once again rewarded. These two little ones are now munching away on the narrow leaf milkweed Asclepias fascicularis. As you can see, the ever present pesky aphids are on the milkweed as well. I try to carefully squish them between my fingers and wipe them off the plants.
Now that it's in the middle of the summer, and days are hot, bees are all over the garden, sipping nectar and collecting pollen. The little sweat bees seem to be particularly fond of the buckwheat blossoms. Here is a sweat bee dwarfed by a Sea Cliff Buckwheat Eriogonum parvifolium flower head. The flower heads are about an inch in circumference. A yellow-faced bumble bee Bombus vosnesenskii drinks nectar from a flower head of the Russian River Coyote Mint Monardella villosa '
The day after the second monarch, a male, emerged and flew away, the third chrysalis was in a hurry to eclose. In the late morning, this chrysalis was a dark green, but not dark enough to indicate signs of eclosing the same day. Imagine our surprise when we checked on it in the late afternoon and saw it like this! The chrysalis is clear and waxy looking, with a few cracks in it. This is the same butterfly that pupated on the tip of a showy milkweed leaf. Since other caterpill
This male monarch pupated beneath the lip of a large pot containing a rose plant. He is number two of our emerged monarchs and eclosed a couple of days ago. You can see his empty chrysalis shell in the background. After he dried his wings it was time to find a good place to perch to absorb the warmth of the afternoon sun. A closer look at his head. He climbed up into the pot where the rose plant is growing. Nasturtiums are growing in the same pot. He decided that perching on