An off year

The relative absence of Tiger swallowtails this year has been noted, and with peak blooming of Joe Pye weeds, the scattered few are clear evidence of this downward pattern in comparison to recent years. From caterpillars to honeybees, and butterflies (probably Japanese beetles also), there are cycles beyond my comprehension, so even with only a few swallowtails (below) there is little reason for concern. If there are few this summer, it is possible there will be more next year.


Until this week, there were few honeybees, which are now attracted to the full bloom of Mountain mint. Butterflies are drawn to Joe Pye, bees and wasps to Mountain mint, with limited crossover though they are in close proximity. In the absence of swallowtails, carpenter bees take full advantage to fill the void.

In bloom, the patch of Mountain mint encourages caution, with hundreds of stinging pollinators. But, my experience is that bees and wasps are too distracted in their frenzied feeding unless the gardener is foolishly intrusive. I’ve been stung a time or two.

Only occasional small butterflies and moths are attracted to several clumps of milkweed and coneflowers (above) in the garden, and surrounding an old farm pond on the neighboring property. Rarely are Monarchs (below) seen, but bees regularly harvest nectar, and the annual invasion of bright orange aphids has begun. I will watch to see if aphid eating beetles arrive soon, and if not, stems will be cut to the ground.

One Comment Add yours

  1. tonytomeo says:

    We of course are getting different patterns. There are more bees, almost no skippers, and less flies most of the time. In the Los Angeles region, bees are scarce right now, and the flies are really icky in the neighborhood I am familiar with. . . . but it is Los Angeles after all.

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