Painted Ladies in the Garden
We haven’t seen a Monarch since last weekend, but today there were several Painted Lady butterflies fluttering around the Mexican Sunflowers (Tithonia rotundifolia) and the various Rudbeckias.
With the sunlight filtered through them, their wings remind me of stained glass windows.
The Tithonias are really holding up very well, considering it is October 1st. Usually they are falling apart by now. The blue sky and orange flowers make a lovely backdrop for this pretty butterfly.
I always get confused trying to distinguish Painted Ladies from the closely related American Ladies. However, thanks to the excellent website Butterflies and Moths of North America, I’m now clear on the distinction. Basically, Painted Ladies have 4 smallish eyes on their underwing (see them in the photo above?), while American Ladies have two larger eyes.
While the wings of Painted Ladies are lovely, they have odd faces. Though I suppose that they’d say the same of people.
I know this is a terribly out of focus, but it’s the only photo I could get with more than one Painted Lady. As you can probably guess, I took these pictures rather than Judy.
There was also this unusual Skipper. Maybe it’s a trick of the light, but it seems more orange than brown. Also it looks like it is dipping its head in order to feed on the nectar. I didn’t think any kind of butterfly could move its head that way. Anyone have an ID on this guy?
Painted Ladies have many host plants, but two of their favorites are Hollyhocks (Alcea) and Thistles (Cirsium). I’ve been thinking of planting some native Field Thistle (Cirsium discolor) and/or Russian Hollyhocks (Alcea rugosa) in order to encourage more Painted Ladies in the garden. The Field Thistle has a taproot and does not spread aggressively, while the Russian Hollyhock is supposed to be resistant to rust. If only I could figure out where to put them.
That’s all for now.