September Meadows, 2019

September meadows showcase a lengthy sequence of bloom and the nectaring insects  attracted to the floral display. Goldenrods dominate early, followed by a beautiful palette of asters. This season, monarchs and red admirals were the most common butterfly visitors.

Monarch on goldenrod

Red Admiral on goldenrod

By mid September, the goldenrod bloom begins to fade as flowers go to seed and earth tones replace the golden yellow of fresh blossoms.

Sulphur on the fading bloom of goldenrod

The aster bloom seems to occur overnight, magically, in places where you didn’t even know there were asters. It is a fitting finale to the summer wildflower season and a timely food source for countless insects.

Aster, standing tall in a sea of goldenrod

Monarch approaching an aster to feed

Monarch on aster, with a background of goldenrods

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Dew-covered aster on a chilly September morning

An anglewing on aster

Photos by NB Hunter. © All rights reserved.

Summer Flowers and Visitors

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.

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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.

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Joe-Pye-Weed (below) and the goldenrods are breaking bud now, attracting the next wave of insect visitors!

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Photos by NB Hunter (July and August, 2018). © All rights reserved.

 

Continuous Bloom for Butterflies

When the cool nights and shorter days of late summer arrive, priorities shift dramatically to subjects like white-tailed deer and preparation for winter. Aside from the occasional Monarch flitting about in fields of asters and goldenrods, butterfly photography is an afterthought.

A recent field trip and opportunity to observe butterflies in a cultivated landscape reminded me that there’s still a lot going on in butterfly world! And, most important, a landscape with continuous bloom into late summer can attract and nourish a wide variety of insects at a critical time. The host plants in this post are Sedum (‘Autumn Joy’) and Butterfly Bush.

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Tiger Swallowtail on Sedum (1 of 2)

 

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Red-spotted Purple on Sedum (the red spots are on the underside of the wing)

 

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Sulphur butterfly in a sea of plenty

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Battle-worn Black Swallowtail on Butterfly Bush

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Fritillary on Butterfly Bush

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Monarch on Sedum

Photos by NB Hunter (August 26-27, 2017). © All Rights Reserved.

Summer’s End

Some memories of late summer, fresh and vivid as ever; memories of fields, forests, streams … and precious friends along the way.

An Anglewing butterfly, Eastern Comma, on Panicled Aster

Eastern Chipmunk perched high up in a wild apple tree

Wild apples; a bumper crop with limbs bending, and sometimes breaking, under the load

Perching dragonfly (Meadowhawk), highlighted by a background of New England Aster blossoms

Thistle in a slight breeze

Monarch butterfly visiting New England Aster

A mountain stream, dead for decades from coal mine acid pollution, now with a heart beat due to massive, long-term clean-up efforts.

Cow elk, part of a family group of 4 (excluding the rutting, 7 x 7 heard bull that is keeping an eye on them); Pennsylvania’s wild elk herd.

“Rather than a problem to be solved, the world is a joyful mystery to be contemplated with gladness and praise.”   – Pope Francis

“Pennsylvania Wilds”

Ralph Harrison 1928-2015: forester, conservationist, forest historian; the father of the Pennsylvania elk herd; a friend and mentor for 43 years. ……………..   In loving memory.

Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

Asters and Monarchs

Our late summer sequence of bloom in the wild finds goldenrods going to seed as asters reach full bloom. Coincidentally, this is when I’m most likely to see migrating Monarch butterflies. In a field of goldenrods and asters, they’ll usually be found feeding on the latter.

Aster in morning dew

Migrating Monarch feeding on asters (1 of 4)

Monarch and Aster

Monarch and Aster

Monarch and Aster

Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

Late Summer Colors

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!

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Sulphur on Joe-Pye Weed

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Fritillary on Joe-Pye Weed

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Monarch on Joe-Pye Weed

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Tiger Swallowtail on Joe-Pye Weed

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Fritillary on Joe-Pye Weed

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Painted Lady on Joe-Pye Weed

Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

In the Heat of the Day!?

The summer season and waves of brightly colored wildflowers that arrive with it can be a seemingly endless array of sights, sounds and ecological interactions. There’s usually something in the mix to baffle, entertain and satisfy any nature enthusiast, regardless of their specialty. A simple, short walk through an open natural area (meadows, fallow fields, waste places) in the middle of a hot, steamy day can prove to be quite rewarding!

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St. Johnswort

My gallery is a sample of images captured in the month of July. Let’s take a hike!

Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.