Butterfly Wonderland

I took all of these photos in the garden Sunday between thunderstorms.


My personal favorite of the day- a Gulf Fritillary butterfly


Skipper butterflies are my lesson this year.


… because the adults are the major pollinator of my speckled butter beans…


While the caterpillars munch on the leaves.


I have half a dozen monarchs at a time feeding on the buddleia, though they prefer the milkweeds when they’re blooming. Last month at least six Monarch caterpillars successfully pupated and emerged.


I’m always on the lookout for caterpillars when I harvest parsley. Here’s a big black swallowtail caterpillar.


And here’s a younger black swallowtail caterpillar. I didn’t think these were from the same species, but they are!


This is actually not a butterfly. It’s an Oleander Moth. Looks like I’ll be planting more oleanders. It really loves nectaring on the ironweed.


This tiny butterfly I believe is a rare Meske’s Skipper.


And what would a summer garden be without one of these startling the crap out of you? Apparently tomato hornworms also enjoy tomatillo leaves.


This is the hardest lesson. I started passionflower vines from seed this year- not an easy project. Now I’m watching them get mown down to twigs and possibly killed to provide food for these Gulf Fritillary caterpillars. If you want butterflies, you have to be willing to let them eat… even your prized plants.

To me, these butterflies and especially the caterpillars are a sign that the land is, for lack of a better term, happy. That the permaculture design principles are not just working by providing food, but they’re working to improve biodiversity and build the soil. This is not about ecosystem restoration, this is about finding the right balance between our needs as people and what the land needs to thrive.

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