Garden & Sky

Garden Tour – August

Got aphids?

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We sure do. But, I’ve come to realize, that can be a good thing. For one, it means that the plant that you weren’t quite sure was some variety of milkweed probably is indeed some variety of milkweed. Yay! Aphids LOVE milkweed plants. So, this plant pictured above is some type of milkweed. I’m not sure which type. There are several…. swamp milkweed (that’s what I *think* it is), butterfly milkweed (seems a bit redundant, but whatever….), common milkweed (classic!), and tropical milkweed (would love to try this one), just to name a few. Time will tell. We just added this guy to our east side garden this summer, so it may or may not bloom for us by the end of the season. That would help with the ID-ing, I think.

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Monarch caterpillar on milkweed leaf

However, there’s another reason that it is definitely some type of milkweed….

Now, no self-respecting monarch instar would be seen on a plant that wasn’t a milkweed. I was so excited to find this guy! But, back to the aphids. The second cool thing about having aphids is that you can watch the ants “interact” with them. And when I say “interact,” I apparently mean herd, control, manipulate, and otherwise subdue the aphids so that the ants can eat sugary secretions (and sometimes them!) at their leisure. It seems that ants have chemicals on their feet that tranquilize the aphids and have been observed biting the wings off aphids to keep them nearby! Supposedly, the aphids get something out of the deal, but, to me, it seems like just another example of the ant world getting a bit too powerful for its own good. At any rate, it’s interesting to watch.

So, other than aphids, ants, and milkweed…. what else is up in the August garden tour?

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Monarch at the top of the butterfly bush

Well, as advertised, the butterfly bushes are doing their thing… attracting a wide variety of butterflies and skippers and sometimes hummingbirds for our viewing pleasure.

A skipper!

A skipper! A silver-spotted skipper!

Skippers and butterflies tend to have knobby ends to their antennae, as opposed to moths, which have feathery antennae. The skippers have antenna knobs that are hooked back… kind of like a crochet hook. Good luck getting them to hold still long enough to get a good look!

So, now we head into September and the official end of summer. It’s sad to see it end so quickly but exciting to contemplate the changes that fall will bring. Certainly cooler weather and fewer mosquitoes–please!!

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