With the cold weather arriving to the Maryland Piedmont, here is a look back at the butterflies that visited my native plant garden this year.
While no match for country meadows or coastal flyways, this succession of native plant blooms (listed below) support butterflies, bees and other beneficial pollinators from spring to fall, creating habitat even on the edge of a city.
In my garden (photos not to scale):
Eastern Black Swallowtail male emerged in May, having over-wintered as a chrysalis. Released here on Golden Alexander, one of its host plants, although they seem to prefer to lay eggs on fennel.
Eastern Black Swallowtail female ready for take-off
Gray Hairstreak on swamp milkweed
Red-banded Hairstreak on mountain mint
White M Hairstreak. See the “M” touching the red spot.
Eastern-tailed Blue on white clover. At less than an inch in size, the Eastern-Tailed Blue and Summer Azure in the next photo are the smallest butterflies in my garden.
Summer Azure on Mountain Mint
Eastern Tiger Swallowtails are common visitors to purple coneflowers
Eastern Comma, named for the white comma mark on the underside of its wing
Variegated Fritillaries were abundant this year
Common Buckeye on mountain mint. A small, fast, beautiful, migrating butterfly, it’s my favorite.
Pearl Crescent on white aster
Fiery Skipper, one of many skippers to visit the garden
American Lady on aromatic aster
Monarch, one of 16 that paused to nectar on aromatic aster on a late October afternoon on their journey to Mexico
And seen nearby:
Red Admiral on neighbor’s zinnia
Spicebush Swallowtail on Allegheny Monkeyflower in a park meadow
Silvery Checkerspot on Queen Anne’s Lace in a park meadow
Sun-loving flowering native plants in my garden include Golden Alexander, False Indigo, Bee Balm, Blazing Star, Cardinal Flower, Wild Petunia, Mountain Mint, Swamp Milkweed, Butterflyweed, Joe Pye Weed, Purple Coneflower, Prairie Coneflower, Black-eyed Susan, False Sunflower, Ironweed, Goldenrod, and — the best for late-season and migrating butterflies — Aromatic Aster. Common blue violets, clover, white aster and white snakeroot grow wild in abundance. Late this season I added Boneset and Button Bush that will bloom next year.