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Purple Caterpillar: Friend or Foe?

26 Jul

Found on bee balm, close to tomatoes, so I don’t want to assume this thing is harmless… Shall i detain him?


Seen these Signs of Nature Babies?

29 Jun

   Butterfly larva.  (Looks like a painted lady butterfly. See more info about development stages here)



Teeny tiny egg shelll! Seen any new birds nests?






Here’s the egg next to a sharpie, for scale… I will leave this egg on the raised herb beds outside the play area in case anyone wants to take a peek!  –




Solved! Mystery of the Yellow “Eggs”

27 Jul


It’s a good news/bad news type explanation.  I’ll start with the good:  The plant I marked as Joe-Pye weed is actually milkweed. (Swamp milkweed or Asclepias incarnata) Ansley had insinuated as much, but two years ago when I bought plant starts for milkweed and butterfly weed, one of them didn’t make it.  I assumed it was the milkweed but in retrospect it must have been the butterfly weed that failed to thrive.

Bad news: these are not ladybug eggs but aphids, common milkweed pests. Shari: The lady bug we spotted near the “eggs” must have been eating the aphids! I will treat the plant with soap today so we can get the plant healthy now that the Monarchs are here.  I saw one in the garden yesterday, along with a bunch of red admirals and a couple white cabbage.  -Denise

Update 7.29.14: After two days of soapy water spraying, the aphids appear to have perished. I’ll keep checking up, but I think treatment worked.


Hollow Joe-Pye Weed or Trumpetweed (Eutrochium fistulosum)

23 Jul

Hollow Joe-Pye Weed Image: Wasowski, Sally and Andy, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center


Flowering in late summer to early fall, Joe-pye weed (Eutrochium fistulosum) shows pale purple or pinkish florets. The stems are purple or greenish, and the plant can grow 5 to 12 feet high. This member of the Aster family is known to attract “scores of butterflies,” according to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center‘s database, as well as honey bees and swamp sparrow birds, which eat the seeds.

Related: What’s In Our Butterfly Garden 



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