Butterflies in the Lupines

One thing that happened in the last few weeks is that the garden shifted from being fairly dull and lifeless to being full of all kinds of wonderful things. Well, caterpillars at any rate. It appears that there are some caterpillars enjoying the comfortable habitat of my California natives garden. A cursory web search says these are likely to be Gulf Frittilaries, but any correction on that score is welcome, as I know squat about caterpillars (Edit: or maybe they're Whatevers).

They totally love the Rodeo Red lupine, though. Good taste, those Gulf Frittilaries Whatevers.

Lots of caterpillars

And another look at a different collection of them. There are a few groups like this all over the various lupines in the planting strip. They are specifically hanging out where the thistle arches over various lupines protectively.

More caterpillars

And close in, so you can all tell me I'm right or wrong:

Gulf Frittilary caterpillars

The thistle is going all seedy on me, and I've been letting it (note the bodacious powdery mildew on that rose there). I did prune some of the blooms off before they blew, but the seeds are valuable to birds and they add to the cover on the ground.

Thistle seeds

Also, the blowing seedheads are lovely.

Thistle seedhead

My little planting strip has turned into quite the habitat. This was, of course, rather the point in planting it, but what with the babies all over the place, I feel less able to deal with the increasingly urgent Bermuda grass problem. So today I pulled a bunch of grass then balled it up and left it in place, should it be needed for cover. I do think it helps that I've been spraying the roses with a fungicide that does not have an insecticide.

Natives garden

Part of my suspicion about the identification of my caterpillars comes from the clouds of these Gulf Frittilaries (again: I think) Actually, these are Skippers hanging out two feet away in the lavender. They fly around with each other, then skip from flower to flower on the lavender.

Gulf Frittiliaries in the lavender

Yellow-brown wings with black dots, charming smile, cute little antennae. Nice little butterfly, all things considered.


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posted by ayse on 07/30/06