In the garden: September 5 – 15, 2022

Today, I’m catching up sharing photos of the garden and stream.

Facebook memory: Trogus pennator (September 5, 2020)

This is why people raise butterfly caterpillars in enclosures. This is also why I should only collect butterfly eggs to raise, not caterpillars. Meet Trogus pennator, a parasitic wasp that specializes in attacking larvae of swallowtail butterflies. Notice that it is inside my butterfly enclosure trying to get out.

Females lay an egg in a swallowtail caterpillar. After the caterpillar pupates, the wasp larvae feeds on the pupa, and chews its way out of the chrysalis (2nd photo) after it has developed into an adult wasp. I have no idea if my other Black Swallowtail caterpillars were affected because I ‘rescued’ them all from my parsley in the veg garden.

I hope my little Giant Swallowtail caterpillar, Tiny Cat, will be okay. It was collected as an egg. I assume that the newly emerged wasp couldn’t have laid an egg in Tiny Cat because it hasn’t yet been out in the world where it could mate. Good luck Tiny Cat.

Facebook memory: my view of the mini-meadow (September 9, 2020)

2020: I’m turning a sunny area of our backyard into a little meadow by adding grasses here-and-there between the flowers. This is my distant view of it from our main seating area.

Up close, you can see the bare spots, the plants that flopped over during a hail storm, and the ones that were stunted during the drought. In the past, I’ve been told that it looks messy. I’m no Piet Oudolf — clearly.

I think my meadow is absolutely beautiful. Especially now that it has a golden glow in the fall light. The meadow is always filled with bees, has butterfly visitors, and is where the Goldfinches sway on top of seed heads. I may see the meadow through rose-tinted glasses, but the wildlife and I are fine with that.

2022: In late summer, the pollinator plantings are at their peak as flowers, seed heads, and grasses attract both pollinators and birds.

Facebook memory: Leafcutter Bee (September12, 2020)

2020: While I was digging up potatoes, I spotted a green thing flying through the garden. I followed it, and it stopped on the bench. It was a Leafcutter bee carrying a leaf piece back to her nest. (She lines her nest with them.) I guess she needed a rest while carrying her heavy cargo.

2022: I still think this is one of the best bee photos I’ve ever taken.

Squirrel eating Blue Flag Iris Seeds (September 13, 2022)

As I was taking photos of a Goldfinch eating Purple Coneflower seeds, I noticed a commotion in the Blue Flag Iris plants nearby. A squirrel was breaking off seed pods and eating the seeds like a cob of corn. It was quite a sloppy eater, with many seeds dropping onto the ground.

All in the family: 3 aster species (September 11, 2022)

In the backyard mini-meadow, I let plants self-seed to fill in gaps. Here, I planted the white Flat-topped Asters (right), but the New England Asters (purple, center), and the Heart-leaved Asters (pale purple, left) self-seeded. They make quite a pretty combination that the bees adore.

Facebook memory: a Swainson’s Thrush at the stream (September 14, 2020)

2020: Not only is this a new bird at our stream, but it is the second kind of thrush that we have had this September. (The other was a Veery.) Like their relatives, the Robins, they love to take baths. This bird seems to wonder what all the clicking (camera shutter noise) is all about.

2022: We had at least one thrush in the yard about the same date this year. Not sure exactly which species of thrush though.

Giant Yellow Hyssop (August 14 and September 14, 2022)

Last year, I grew Yellow Giant Hyssop, and the plants bloomed for the first time this summer. Bumblebees and Goldfinches liked it even more than Anise Hyssop. For a while it was the Goldfinches favourite plant.

Here are a variety of bumblebees and Goldfinches that frequented these tall flowers. The last photo shows that by mid-September birds have eaten most of the seeds.

Pretty House Finches (September 12, 2022)

A family of House Finches have lived in our backyard this summer. The pretty male (red) matches the crabapples and Red Osier Dogwood branches. The female (brown), was in a bad mood because I hadn’t yet filled the birdbath on the ground. She was pretty grouchy with her mate too. They eventually went to the nearby stream for a drink and a bath.

House Finches aren’t native to Eastern North America, originating in the US west and Mexico . According to All About Birds, a few finches were let loose on Long Island, NY after a failed attempt to sell them as caged birds, called ‘Hollywood Finches’. They don’t seem invasive like House Sparrows and European Starlings.

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