Sunday, November 20, 2016


...Attracting Butterflies to Your Backyard

Lycaena tityrus, Cuivré fuligineux, Sooty Copper

Don't use pesticides

This one should be obvious, right? If you're trying to support insect life in your backyard, you don't want to use chemicals or other substances that kill them. Providing habitat is a bit different than gardening for aesthetics. Caterpillars need foliage to feed on, so you'll have to be tolerant of leaves with holes, or even plants that have been defoliated in some cases. Some caterpillars will even feed on the plants you intended to eat yourself, like dill or fennel (which are the host plants for black swallowtail larvae).

Lycaena tityrus, Cuivré fuligineux, Sooty Copper

Learn to share. Plant some extra so there's enough for you and the caterpillars.

Lycaena tityrus, Cuivré fuligineux, Sooty Copper

If you garden pests reach the point where you absolutely must intervene, try the least toxic methods of control first. Learn ways to attract beneficial insects to your garden, and let the predators take care of the pests.

Lycaena tityrus, Cuivré fuligineux, Sooty Copper

Lycaena tityrus, Cuivré fuligineux, Sooty Copper

For help battling specific garden pests organically, try reading my tips for controlling the 12 worst vegetable garden pests.



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Tuesday, November 15, 2016


...Attracting Butterflies to Your Backyard

Petit nacré - Queen of Spain Fritillary - Issoria lathonia

Provide cover for overwintering butterflies and caterpillars

We tend to think of butterflies as summer insects. Ever wonder where they go in the winter months? Yes, monarch butterflies migrate to Mexico, but most of our butterflies survive the winter by going into a state of diapause, and simply hiding out until warm weather returns.
Butterflies and moths may overwinter in any of their four life stages, depending on the family or genus. Swallowtails usually wait out the winter weather in the pupal stage, tucked away inside a chrysalis in a protected location.
Many tiger moths, most notably the Isabella tiger moth which goes by the nickname woolly bear as a caterpillar, overwinter in the larval stage. A number of butterflies – the mourning cloak, the question mark, and the eastern comma among them – survive the cold in the adult stage, by simply tucking themselves under loose bark or hiding inside a tree cavity

Petit nacré - Queen of Spain Fritillary - Issoria lathonia

So what does this mean for your butterfly habitat? Think about how you can provide winter shelter for butterflies and moths in different life stages. Hint: don't rake all your leaves! Leave the fall leaf litter in at least part of your yard for hibernating caterpillars. Brush piles and stored firewood also makes excellent shelter for overwintering butterflies.
Oh, and don't bother with those butterfly houses they market for your garden. Butterflies rarely use them, but wasps do.





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Saturday, October 22, 2016


...Attracting Butterflies to Your Backyard

Coenonympha glycerion, Fadet de la mélique ou Iphis/Semi-Procris, Chestnut Heath


          Keep bird feeders and birdbaths away from your butterfly habitat     

 Mésange bleue, Cyanistes caeruleus, Eurasian blue tit
People who love butterflies often love songbirds, too. While creating a backyard wildlife habitat for both birds and bugs is a great thing to do, you do need to think of the predator-prey relationships in your yard.

Coenonympha glycerion, Fadet de la mélique ou Iphis/Semi-Procris, Chestnut Heath

Remember, birds prey on insects! If you place a birdbath right in the middle of your butterfly garden, you're providing one stop shopping for hungry birds. 

Coenonympha glycerion, Fadet de la mélique ou Iphis/Semi-Procris, Chestnut Heath

Consider placing any bird feeders or birdbaths in a separate area of your yard, just so it isn't quite so easy for birds to find the smorgasbord of caterpillars in your garden.



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Sunday, October 16, 2016


          ...Attracting Butterflies to Your Backyard


Melanargia Galathea, Demi-Deuil, Marbled White

Make puddles
Butterflies need to drink, but they can't do so from birdbaths or fountains. Instead, they get their water by taking up moisture from mud puddles. Butterflies also get important minerals by drinking their water from puddles.

Melanargia Galathea, Demi-Deuil, Marbled White

Males pass these nutrients on to females through their sperm
Butterflies get most of their nutrition from flower nectar. Though rich in sugar, nectar lacks some important nutrients the butterflies need for reproduction. For those, butterflies visit puddles.
By sipping moisture from mud puddles, butterflies take in salts and minerals from the soil. This behavior is called puddling, and is mostly seen in male butterflies. That's because males incorporate those extra salts and minerals into their sperm.
When butterflies mate, the nutrients are transferred to the female through the sperm. These extra salts and minerals improve the viability of the female's eggs, increasing the couple's chances of passing on their genes to another generation.

Melanargia Galathea, Demi-Deuil, Marbled White

A complete butterfly habitat will include one or more puddling sites. Sink a dish tub or bucket in the ground, fill it with sand, and make sure to wet the sand down with your garden hose each day.

Melanargia Galathea, Demi-Deuil, Marbled White

Melanargia Galathea, Demi-Deuil, Marbled White

If you use drip irrigation to water your garden beds, this can also provide puddling sites for butterflies.






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Sunday, September 25, 2016


...Attracting Butterflies to Your Backyard
Acronicta rumicisProvide host plants for caterpillars
If it's a true butterfly habitat, your garden will include a number of different host plants for caterpillars. Remember, you need to feed the larvae, too, not just the adult butterflies. And female butterflies will be cruising your garden, looking for places to lay their eggs.

Dolerus sp.
Some species are specialists, requiring host plants from a particular genus or family. Other butterflies aren't as picky, and will deposit eggs on a range of plants.

Dolerus sp.

Acronicta rumicis

Acronicta rumicis

Many caterpillars feed on trees and shrubs, rather than herbaceous plants, so include some woody plants in your habitat. As a bonus, they'll provide shelter for overwintering or roosting butterflies, too. 

Dolerus sp.








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Saturday, September 24, 2016


Pieris napi, Piéride du navet, Green-veined white

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Sunday, May 8, 2016


...Attracting Butterflies to Your Backyard

Melitaea athalia, Mélitée du mélampyre ou Damier Athalie, Heath Fritillary

Plant flowers in masses
Butterflies are rather nearsighted. Once they get within 10-12 feet of an object, they can see it quite well, but at a distance most things appear blurred. Butterflies are quite good at discriminating colors, and can even see reds (unlike bees, which cannot). What does this mean for your butterfly habitat? To attract the most butterflies, you should plant your nectar plants in masses. Large areas of the same color will be easier for the butterflies to 
see from a distance, and will encourage them to come in for a closer look.


Melitaea athalia, Mélitée du mélampyre ou Damier Athalie, Heath Fritillary


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Tuesday, May 3, 2016


...Attracting Butterflies to Your Backyard 

Polyommatus Icarus, Argus Bleu , Common Blue

Plant a diversity of flowers

Butterflies are diverse creatures, and they require diverse sources of food. Large butterflies, like swallowtails and monarchs, prefer large, flat flowers that give them a good-sized landing area. Smaller butterflies, such as hairstreaks, coppers, and metalmarks, have shorter proboscises. They won't be able to drink from the deep nectaries of large flowers. When choosing flowers for your butterfly garden, try to pick a variety of flower shapes, colors, and sizes to meet the needs of different butterflies.

Polyommatus Icarus, Argus Bleu , Common Blue

Plants with clusters of smaller flowers (milkweeds, for example) will attract butterflies of all sizes.

Polyommatus Icarus, Argus Bleu , Common Blue







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Sunday, May 1, 2016


...Attracting Butterflies to Your Backyard 

Polyommatus Icarus, Argus Bleu , Common Blue


Provide nectar sources from early spring to late fall.
The key to attracting butterflies is nectar, and lots of it. Butterflies that overwinter as adults need nectar sources early in the season, and fall migrants, like monarchs, need plenty of nectar to fuel their long journeys south. It's easy to provide nectar in the summer, when most flowers are in bloom, but does your backyard offer nectar sources in March, or October?

Polyommatus Icarus, Argus Bleu , Common Blue

Try these 12 easy-to-grow nectar plants for butterflies, many of which bloom late in the season.

Polyommatus Icarus, Argus Bleu , Common Blue

Polyommatus Icarus, Argus Bleu , Common Blue

And while butterfly bush does bloom for a long time and attract a lot of butterflies, keep in mind that it's an exotic, invasive plant that should probably be avoided.

Polyommatus Icarus, Argus Bleu , Common Blue

Polyommatus Icarus, Argus Bleu , Common Blue



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Saturday, April 30, 2016


...Attracting Butterflies to Your Backyard 

Melitaea athalia, Mélitée du mélampyre ou Damier Athalie, Heath Fritillary


Protect your butterflies from the wind.

If your backyard is subject to breezy conditions, think about how you can provide the butterflies with protection from the wind. If it takes a lot of energy for the butterflies to battle the wind currents in your backyard habitat, the site won't be as beneficial to them for gathering nectar.


Melitaea athalia, Mélitée du mélampyre ou Damier Athalie, Heath Fritillar


Try to site your nectar and host plants where the house, a fence, or a line of trees will buffer the wind. If needed, provide a windbreak by planting taller shrubs or trees to block the prevailing winds from your butterfly garden.


Melitaea athalia, Mélitée du mélampyre ou Damier Athalie, Heath Fritillary

Melitaea athalia, Mélitée du mélampyre ou Damier Athalie, Heath Fritillary




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Tuesday, January 26, 2016



...Attracting Butterflies to Your Backyard 

Choose a sunny site 
Butterflies are the ultimate sun worshipers. If you've spent any time observing butterflies at all, you know they spend some of their time basking in the sunshine. Like all insects, butterflies are ectotherms, meaning they can't regulate their body temperatures internally. Instead, they rely on the sun's energy to warm their bodies so they can function. This is especially important on cooler days, because butterflies can't fly when the temperatures dip below about 55° Fahrenheit.

You'll see a butterfly perched on a rock or leaf in a sunny spot, with its wings extended, warming up its flight muscles. When you're planning your butterfly habitat, think about providing good basking spots in the sunniest areas of your yard.


In addition, most good nectar plants require partial to full sun. Plant your butterfly garden in an area that gets a solid 6 hours or more of sunshine every day. Pay attention to the seasonal changes, too. The best site for a butterfly garden will get lots of sun from early spring to late fall, not just in the summer months.
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Monday, January 25, 2016


...butterfly, Melanargia galathea, accounts for glacial distribution patterns and postglacial range expansion in southeastern Europe

Isolation of Mediterranean species in the southern European peninsulas during the cold glacial phases often resulted in differentiation of several genetic lineages confined to the respective peninsulas. However, whilst there is good genetic evidence for multiple refugia in Iberia, there are only limited data available for the Balkans. Therefore, we wish to examine the hypothesis of a strong genetic structuring within southeastern Europe for the existence of multiple Balkan differentiation centres and/or several leading edges. As a model we use the marbled white butterfly, Melanargia galathea.





We studied 18 allozyme loci of 564 individuals from 16 populations distributed over a large part of southeastern Europe. The single populations showed moderately high genetic diversity and no northward decline of genetic diversity was detected. The overall genetic differentiation between populations was considerable (FST 7.0%). Cluster analysis discriminated three genetic groups: (i) a western flank in the former Yugoslavia, parts of eastern Austria and Hungary; (ii) an eastern flank with populations from Bulgaria and Romania (south of the southern Carpathians and eastern Carpathians); and (iii) the eastern Carpathian Basin. 




Hierarchical variance analysis distributed 53% of the variance among populations between these three groups. One sample from the Greek–Bulgarian border clustered within the eastern flank, but showed some tendency towards the eastern Carpathian Basin populations. Two populations from Carinthia clustered together with the eastern Carpathian Basin ones and a population from Styria showed an intermediate genetic composition between the three groups. Most probably, the eastern and the western flank groups are due to postglacial range expansion from the northeastern and the northwestern edges of the glacial differentiation centre (so-called leading edges).


The eastern Carpathian Basin group may have resulted from postglacial expansion from northern Greece through valley systems of the central Balkan peninsula, maybe even expanding westwards north of the Balkan mountains reaching some parts of eastern Austria (e.g. Carinthia). Therefore, the Balkanic refugium of M. galathea may or may not have been continuous along the coastal areas of the Mediterranean, but must have been strongly genetically structured.

-->  http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-294X.2006.02900.x/abstract

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Thursday, January 14, 2016


Merle noir, Turdus merula, Common blackbird

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Mésange charbonnière, Parus major, Great tit

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Saturday, January 9, 2016


Geai des chênes, Garrulus glandarius, Eurasian jay

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Friday, January 8, 2016


  Mésange bleue, Cyanistes caeruleus, Eurasian blue tit

 Mésange bleue, Cyanistes caeruleus, Eurasian blue tit






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