With the recent hot and humid weather, I found it difficult to spend much time outside. So it was great to have a variety of plants in the back yard to attract wildlife. I can get out for brief periods, and head back to the A/C when necessary.
The drier than normal conditions have not been conducive for a lot of butterfly activity, as anyone who has participated in recent butterfly counts will be aware. Marie noted in her facebook entry of 5 years ago on this date, that we had 7 species in our yard that day. This year I've only seen about a dozen species all season! But there has been some interesting action on the butterfly front.
One day I noted a male, and then a female, Black Swallowtail. The male was busily feeding on milkweed, while the female was searching for a place to lay eggs on the dill. At one point, I saw her lay an egg and was able to pick it out from the edge of a dill leaf. Out came the camera with 100 mm macro lens as well as all the extension tubes. This first image is of an egg, and it is barely one mm in diameter. I didn't notice until later, that there was an even tinier aphid type critter on another dill leaf, just a bit lower and to the left of the egg.
Monarchs, too, have been in the yard.
Other butterflies have been through the yard, including Red-spotted Purples.
With so many plants in the yard, there is lots of other invertebrate action, often around one of the milkweed plants. This next image shows the Great Golden Digger Wasp (Sphex ichneumoneus), a fairly large wasp often found on milkweeds.
Apparently they very seldom sting people, unless they are handled, and so it is purely a defensive action if they do sting. In fact with so many plants providing sources of nectar, the yard is sometimes quite a-buzz with bees and bee-like critters. I always move slowly, so as to not threaten them. I often can use a macro lens and flash for them, and they don't seem to be bothered a bit.
Mayflies did not seem to be as abundant as some years, although some were around.
A few dragonflies passed through, such as this female Blue Dasher, either for a rest or on the search for other flying insects that would do for a meal.
Wildlife action isn't limited to invertebrates. House Wrens like the abundance of insects in our yard. This family group was busy in our yard for weeks while feeding themselves and eventually their young. I suspect some of the small caterpillar larvae disappeared from the plants I was watching them on and went down the hatch of the youngsters in the wren box.
What's in your back yard?