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Hosting butterflies
August 22, 2011

A Great Big "Gardening For Wildlife" Welcome to all of our new readers

What an exciting week for growth.

What a wonderful week all the way around.

Stick around for a few weeks and see what we are all about.

I often share about myself, family and the fur kids (pets).

Yes, I am a real person.

Several issues and topics are mentioned over time, on insects, birds, other wildlife and of course gardening.

I've even been known to write on something special that you may request.

You will read that I believe In God and creation, and that we are to be stewards of the land and show some respect to what has been given us.

Yes, this newsletter is often different than most letters.

Then again, you are special and deserve more than a cookie cutter letter.

I'm looking forward to becoming your friend.

Again, welcome.

As I mentioned above, this past week was a wonderful and busy week all the way around.

For sure it was busy and at times hectic and even sprinkled with a bit of frustration.

But all the way around, a wonderful week.

Karen's mom is starting to show signs of improvement physically and emotionally.

For all the new readers, Karen's mom
(87) busted her head open when she fell backwards a couple of weeks ago.

Doctors were thinking a mild heart attack may have caused the mishap.

No matter, here pulse was at 30 and she is now supporting a pace maker too.

She is back home after spending some time here and the care she is receiving has everybody pleased, including mom.

Karen and I spent an afternoon at Lake Michigan with our oldest girl and five grand kids.

Often we enjoy the beach just to relax and get in a swim or two.

With kids, there is no down time for that, and grandpa gets the bulk of the action.

I don't remember reading that in the 'Grandpa Training Manual':-)

No matter, I guess that is what grandpas do.

In all of my time her on earth, have never had a hole dug and me buried in it (except for my head).

At the beach anyway.

Yes, four boys had their fun with me.

Memory making is can be so much fun.

Friday was celebration day at our home.

Two grand children had birthdays this weekend.

Baby girl turned one on Saturday.

My youngest grandson turned four on Sunday.

To add to the celebration, the little girl started to walk this past week as well.

You all know what that means for the next couple years.

Karen's family is small, so everyone from Great Grandma to a great uncle and aunt to cousins were here for the birthday bash.

Grandpa and Great uncle Ron to the rescue.

Adults often ask when I'm going to grow up or act my age.

My response to that is something along the line of this

"The day I have to act my age, is the day they can bury me".

Besides, I was short changed when it comes to grand parents and my dad never really took time to play with us boys.

This may sound strange, but to this day, I still envious when I see boy playing with his dad.

I've never been the best parent or grand parent, but I continue to try to be.

Saturday morning, we packed Yolanda (special needs daughter from a car accident) in the van and went to the 'Farmers Market'.

On Weekends, you can often find everything for a complete meal.

Prices can be a bit more at times, but you know you are getting fresh and from local growers and companies that make the cheese and breads.

Farmers markets can be a bustling place in larger cities

Most smaller communities have a Farmers Market going at least one day a week.

What a great way to meet people and help neighbors.

No matter, take a day and hit a Farmers Market or two in your local area.

You will find something you don't grow, and if you do........

Comparing is always a fun time too, as I do check out tomatoes, peppers and a few other thing I grow.

I also notice the money I'm saving.

Speaking of tomatoes..............................

If you aren't treating them for 'Late Blight', it's not to late.

'Liquid Copper' is a natural chemical that is sprayed on every week to 10 days to help prevent 'Late Blight' and other issues with your tomatoes.

'Late Blight' moves fast and hard and will destroy your tomato crop within a couple of weeks.

To make less work, mix the 'Liquid Copper' with a stick um like Bonide's 'Turbo'.

If you have an anti desiccant like 'Wilt Pruf' (often used in the winter on broad-leaf evergreens) in your shed or else where, you can use this too as a stick um.

Mix a table spoon per gallon of water and your Copper then spray.

The sticky stuff works as a coating to keep your spray on longer and to stick better.

Now you only need to spray once every few weeks instead of every week or after every rain.

(Works well to prevent 'Early Blight' too.)

This also works with any spray program.

Be sure to clean your sprayer out well or the plumbing will get plugged (this happened to me with a qt. spray bottle).

Onto this week's topic.



So why am I writing about butterflies this week when last week I mentioned I was pretty much done with insects for now?

Well for one reason, many of us don't look at butterflies as real insects.

Butterflies are something we stop to adore.

They flit through our gardens, drinking nectar from your flowers and possibly a garden you created just for them.

On occasion, one just might land on you.

For another reason ...........

I happened to see this very large butterfly meander in and out of my flowers this past week.

I grabbed the camera and snapped a couple of pictures.

A Giant Swallowtail
(Papilio cresphontes).

I can't recall the last time I have seen one of these magnificent creatures.

Every bit of two times larger than
a large Eastern Tiger Swallowtail and close to twice the size of the Monarch butterfly.

It was a bit difficult to snag a good image, as Giant Swallowtails refuse stay still for any length of time and the wings continue to flap when it stops to feed.

This picture is the best I could capture.

It was in my yard for only a few minutes, and I haven't seem it since.

The brief visit did interest me and got me to thinking about Native foods and habitats for our native butterflies.

All of our native and localized butterflies.

Typically, newsletters will focus on the insect or animal and its features.

(I often will do that too.)

Today however, I will attempt to write a bit a few native host plants for a few of our butterflies.

At one time, all of our native butterflies required native hosts.

A Europeans settled the new world, they brought many of their plants and seeds with them, while removing and destroying native plants and habitats.

Research and shows that many butterflies are able to adapt more quickly to change than our birds and other insect life.

But wouldn't you know it....

Many introduced plant species are in the same family as many of our native plants.

Giant Swallowtails are often called Citrus butterflies because the larvae can be a pest for citrus crops.

Yet, orange, lemon, grapefruit and other citrus trees are of the family Rutaceae, commonly known as the rue or citrus family.

Would you know it................

There are several native species in the rue family, including Northern pricklyash (Zanthoxylum americanum Mill.), Hercules-club (Zanthoxylum clava-herculis L.), Lime pricklyash (Zanthoxylum fagara [L.] Sarg.), Hoptree (Ptelea trifoliata L.), Sea torchwood (Amyris elemifera L.). and others.

While many of the rue family of plants are localized to Florida and other southern regions, the Hoptree is native to much of the United States of America and in the eastern one third of Canada.

If you want to attract the Giant Swallowtail butterfly to your gardens (who wouldn't), then make an effort to plant a host like the Hoptree.

Hoptree (Ptelea trifoliata L.):

A deciduous shrub that is sometimes considered a small tree.

It can grow up to 20' though such a height is rather uncommon.

It is multi-trunked but easily pruned to develop a single trunk and more of a tree form.

The branches will droop with age but can also be easily pruned to maintain a tidy appearance.

The green oblong, trifoliate (comprised of 3 leaflets) leaves are glossy, resembling those of other members of the Rue (citrus) family.

These will provide good fall interest as they turn yellow before dropping.

The greenish-white flowers are not particularly attractive but they do emit a pleasant, citrusy fragrance.

These give way to one of the more interesting features of this species.

The wafer-like seed capsules (samaras) for which it gets the common name wafer ash.

Highly adaptable and easy to grow.

Once established it is very drought tolerant, and can be grown in full shade to full sun.

It will thrive in all soil types and is easily pruned, making it a good candidate for use as a hedge shrub or accent tree alike.

It is highly deer resistant and may bloom anytime from April to July depending on its geographic location.

Hardy in Zones 4-9.


The common name of Hoptree is a reference to the use of its bitter fruit as a substitute for hops in beer brewing.

The seeds persist well into winter and provide a food source for a variety of birds and small mammals.

The bark and leaves emit a citrusy but somewhat unpleasant fragrance when damaged or crushed.

The western one third of North America is home to the Anise Swallowtail.

Now why would this butterfly be named after a non native plant?

It seem this butterfly it has a taste for anise, fennel and other members of th carrot family that settlers planted in the gardens.

Again, there must be a native food source for this species of butterfly.

Oenanthe sarmentosa:

A species of flowering plant in the carrot family known by the common name water parsley.

It is native to western North America from Alaska to California, where it grows in wet areas, such as stream banks.

It is sometimes aquatic, growing in the water.

A perennial herb growing to a maximum height of a 1.5 feet and near 4 to 5 feet (1.5 meters) in bloom.

The parsley-like leaf blade is divided into serrated, lobed leaflets.

The inflorescence is a compound umbel of many flowers with bright white to red-tinged petals.

Hardy to Zone 5.

Lomatium utriculatum.

Another native member of the carrot family is

Known by the common name Common lomatium, It is native to western North America from British Columbia to California, where it grows in many types of habitat including chaparral, and in the Sierra Nevada.

a plant that is endangered and threatened in many parts of its native region.

Hardy in zones 5-8

The Black Swallowtail Butterfly, one of North America’s most common butterflies, frequently visits backyard gardens.

Often called parsley worms, the caterpillars feed on parsley, dill, fennel, and other members of the carrot (Apiaceae) family.

Once again, what did these butterflies use as hosts before European gardens began to take over the landscape?

Once again, native plants that once dominated were the main hosts for this butterfly.

A prime example might be .......

Zizia aurea:

Golden Alexanders, a native perennial plant is up to 2½' tall, forming occasional side-stems.

The stems are hairless and rather shiny.

The shiny compound leaves are trifoliate.

The lower compound leaves have long petioles, which become shorter as the leaves alternate upward along the stems.

Blooms in May and June.

Each compound umbel is about 3" across, and consists of about 12 umbellets.

The preference is full to partial sun, although light shade under trees is tolerated.

Habitats include moist black soil prairies, openings in moist to mesic woodlands, savannas, thickets, limestone glades and bluffs.

It can also be found in powerline clearings in woodland areas, and abandoned fields.

Golden Alexanders is widely distributed throughout the eastern two thirds of the United states and eastern half of Canada.

It is however,uncommon or absent in many regions where it was once common

as this plant is considered endangered in Michigan, Wisconsin and few other states.

Hardy in Zones 3-9.

As noted by all of the pictures of butterflies and the butterfly bushes, it is clear to see that they (Buddleia davidii) are indeed butterfly magnets.

However, to really keep a species going and have more of them, you need to host them as well

The relationship with milkweed (Asclepias) and Monarch butterflies is well documented, yet other butterflies rely on milkweed as a host plant.

Karner's Blue requires wild blue lupine to survive.

Gulf Fritillary, Zebra Longwing and Julia require members of the Passiflora (passion vine) family.

Red Admiral need Stinging Nettles (Urtica spp.) or Cucumber Plant (Parietaria pennsylvanica) as a host plant.

Clouded Skipper require native grasses like Big Bluestem (Andropogon gerardii) , Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium) and any native grass available.

Yes, many species of butterflies and skippers require our native grasses as host plants.

This is but a sample.

For some species, it may be a native tree like Elm, Tulip, or Poplar that a species of butterfly must have as a host, or reproduction stops and a species dies.

The vital importance native host plants play in the survival of our native butterflies.

Creation will always provide in this wonderful circle we call life.

That is if it is a nice round circle without vital pieces missing.

When you and I begin to really open our eyes and see the true beauty of the natural world.............

You will see the beauty and the need of a simple plant.

Yes, if you want to enjoy the dance of the butterfly, you must pay the piper and listen to 'Nature's' call.

Even if that call is a native plant.

Well <>, it is time to fly for now.

Before I go, here is your positive thought for the week.

God Bless.

Believing what God says is a choice you make even when you are feeling as if there is no hope.

Hang on to the truth that Jesus is comforting you through each tear you cry.

Author- Unknown

God loves the broken hearted.

Few things will catch His ear like the cry of the broken hearted.

"The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise."

Psalm 51:17

"The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit."

Psalm 34:18

"Treat the earth well:

It was not given to you by your parents,

It was loaned to you by your children.

We do not inherit the Earth from our

Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children."

Ancient Indian Proverb

Your friend indeed,

Ron Patterson

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Gardening For Wildlife.

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