It’s July in Southwestern Florida- sunny, hot and humid and occasionally rainy. Perfect weather for butterflies! Everyday, there are monarchs, Gulf fritillaries, zebra longwings (our state butterfly), white peacocks, and three different types of swallowtails- gold rim, Eastern black and the giant swallowtail, all floating around in my yard. Recently, I spotted a tiger swallowtail sipping nectar from a Pagoda Flower (Clerodendrum paniculatum) and watched a Queen sipping dew off a blade of lemongrass just after dawn. Two first sightings in one week! I thought I had seen a Queen in the past but was never able to get close enough to verify its identity. This one was kind enough to wait for me to go in the house and get my phone, so I could take a few pictures. Unfortunately, I didn’t have my glasses on, so the picture is blurry, but I can definitely ID it as a Queen.
My production of 2 species of native milkweeds, Asclepias incarnata and A. verticillata, is coming along nicely. The 10 ft x 10 ft screen enclosure in the nursery protects the young plants from the many Mama Monarchs that want to lay their eggs on those juicy young leaves, and cuts about 50% of the sun’s blistering summer rays. They should be ready to sell in August.