The dynamic relationship between sequential summer blooms and insect visitors is fascinating, especially when the visitors are butterflies and moths. Like the invertebrates, I follow the sequence of bloom. But, I’m searching for rewards other than nectar!
Knapweed (Centaurea), dominant in abandoned fields and open habitats in July and August, is a popular source of nectar for bees, butterflies and many other insects. In good light, a macro view of the mix of vivid colors can be spectacular.
Cultivated Phlox is a preferred food source for the Hummingbird Moth (Common Clearwing; Hemaris), but is also a good choice for attracting a variety butterflies to the backyard.
Joe-Pye-Weed (below) and the goldenrods are breaking bud now, attracting the next wave of insect visitors!
The delicate spring ephemerals like trillium and bloodroot might get more attention, but late summer wildflowers put on quite a show and often provide multiple rewards. Joe-Pye weeds (Eupatorium), goldenrods (Solidago) and asters (Aster) are dominant late summer bloomers that attract a multitude of insect life, to the point that a summer meadow hums like distant traffic. Of these three groups, Joe-Pye Weed is the first to reach full bloom and is a butterfly magnet!