Flowers and Pollinators

July 15th, 9:30 am

As the summer moves along I am taken with how mild this summer is compared to last year. The temperatures have been marvelous, not too hot, and not too cold. Having fog last week, in the early hours of the day, and then the temperature not going much above 80 degrees, reminded me of when I lived near the coast The animals and plants seemed to like it also, with the coolness extending the spring like weather.

As I walk along the buzz and hum of the insects is all around me. There are many butterflies flying past with one landing right at my feet, not on a flower, but on a coyote scat one of its favorite foods sources. I often see different species of butterflies on many kinds of scat (animal poop) where they are able to get minerals and vitamins not available on the flowers they also eat.

This butterfly is called an Lorquin’s Admiral, Limenitus lorquini, and it, according to Wikipedia, resides mostly in forest edges, mountain canyons, parks, stream-sides, fence-rows, orchards, and groves of cottonwood and poplar. Usually this butterfly feeds on California buckeye, Yerba Santa, privet, bird droppings, and scat. One of the interesting bits of information that I discovered about this beautiful butterfly is that they are extremely territorial and will attack any intruders into their habitat, including large birds. It is black with white spots and orange wing tips that extend right to the edge of the wing, unlike the California sister butterfly that looks similar, but its orange spots on the tips of the wing are surrounded by black and don’t extend to the tips.

There are many native bees, wasps, and flies flying around the wild roses and the Ninebark bush, Physocarpus capitatus,  making a wonderful humming sound all around me. but my attention is captured by a beautiful large yellow butterfly. This reminds me of how it always is in the natural world the small, dark, mostly not attractive, pollinators are doing the majority of the work while the elegant, large, colorful butterflies get most of the attention! If one takes the time to look at these small bees and wasps up close with a hand lens or close-up binoculars, they are truly beautiful

The large yellow and black butterfly I was distracted by, is the Western Tiger swallowtail butterfly,Papilio rutulus. This butterfly is quite commonly seen in the spring and summer flying over the pastures, woodlands and mountains following the riparian corridors. It eats nectar from many flowers including thistles, California buckeye, zinnia, Nine bark and Yerba Santa. It uses species of cottonwood, willows, and ash to lay their  eggs on because they are used as food for the caterpillars. Pollination is what creates most of our food and the food for most of the mammals even if indirectly

Pollination is what creates most of our food and the food for most of the mammals even if it does so indirectly. do notice that besides these many pollinators there are dragonflies and damselflies, beetles, and many ants about. All these insects are an important source of food for the birds and mammals of the valley.  It is an abundant time for the insects and the animals in this part of the world!