Fan mail from a ten year old reader near Washington D.C.
There is a lot more to see in a garden or field than just plants. Flowers are nature’s way of attracting a wide variety of creatures. Many plants need wildlife to help with pollination. A flower or vegetable garden or a field of blooming weeds is full of life. Some come directly to feed on nectar or collect pollen such as bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. Others, like spiders, wasps, assassin bugs and praying mantis, are attracted to areas with flowers because the bugs they eat are in the plants. Then, larger animals such as lizards and birds are attracted to the area because of the variety of insects they can find there.
Hummingbirds are a special sight. They are fun to watch at a hummingbird feeder, but watching them feed at flowers is more fun to me. This little female Ruby-throat Hummingbird checked out every bloom in the garden. I was able to catch a picture of her feeding at the aptly named Hummingbird flower yesterday. She seems to prefer Hibiscus flowers too.
Some butterflies like specific flowers. The Monarch butterfly requires the Butterfly Weed, also known as Milkweed, to lay eggs.
The Monarch larvae or caterpillars feed almost exclusively on Milkweed as they grow and prepare to undergo metamorphosis into a butterfly. Other butterfly species have their preferred plants too. When you think about it, that helps reduce the new caterpillars’ competition for the same plants after the butterfly eggs hatch. Caterpillars have to eat a lot to grow and turn into a butterfly!
I have a wide variety of flowers in my back yard to hopefully attract different types of wildlife. It works beautifully most of the time. I have discovered that something must be missing though. A beautiful Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly passes through the yard several times a day without stopping. They like daisies. I have a daisy plant in a pot. Perhaps they require more than one pot of daisies to make it worthwhile to stop and feed?
A great place to watch for butterflies, insects and other animals attracted by flowers is at a garden center. The large concentration of flowering plants attracts a lot of attention from insects. And it is free to walk around! Some of the pictures for There’s a Bug in my Blossom were taken at garden centers.
We can enjoy all that nature has to offer whether in our own yard, at the park or a garden center. We just need to get out and observe. And yes, sometimes flowers attract all sorts of wildlife!
This story about the endangered Scaly Crickets on the beaches at Pembrookshire in the United Kingdom is a lot of fun. I believe kids have an advantage when it comes to seeing things. Adults tend to take a broader view. I know I do. Kids look at a scene and can break it down into segments. And within those segments they can see details that we adults miss. I’m trying to regain that skill now as an adult. But I find that I still miss a lot until I take a photo and zoom in on it with the computer. Then I see all that I missed in the initial scan. I could attribute missing details to older eyes, but I believe there is more to it than that.
After raising four of my own, there is no doubt that kids are very perceptive and observant. Can I as an adult regain that wide eyed vision of a child? I sure hope so. I’m working on it.