Monarchs, painted ladies, viceroys, swallowtails, oh my!

If we have not seen as many butterflies as MomRed would like, it is not for lack of trying, I assure you. The butterfly bushes have been kept trimmed and thus in full bloom, we have all sorts of butterfly and hummingbird flowers around Redquarters, Mother has been assiduous in cultivating fennel and milkweed for the swallowtails and monarchs (in that order), and we don’t spray unless it is absolutely necessary, and then we are really, really careful.

The monarchs have not gotten the memo. And there’s the little cardinal problem. Cardinals like to eat caterpillars. MomRed likes cardinals and caterpillars. This is awkward.


Painted lady, about half the size of a monarch or swallowtail.

Monarch, right? Nope.

The plain wings and outline of white spots are the give-away.


These are the pretty form of the little worms that eat your cabbages and related plants. Boo, hiss.

12 thoughts on “Flutter-bys

  1. Ooh, pretty. Nice patience with taking the pictures and with getting the trght shutter speed; it’s hard to set up and remain still!

    I have a similar problem with cardinals. I pulled the fennel out last year, when it turned into the Thing From Another Garden and started to smother the tomatoes and parsley. I couldn’t use enough leaf or stem, but I have bottles of seed. We have a lot of traffic on the butterfly bushes and bergamot (grown for leaf; Oswego tea with a touch of sweetener is very cooling in the summer), but now we’re between groups.

    The other fun time is when the goldfinches migrate south. They love echinacea or coneflower seed, so those don’t get deadheaded. The beds looks great when flights of small yellow-winged birds swoop in an out. The cat also appreciates the concealment and the shiny-colored birds. Awkward, all right, especially with the cat mrowing around a mouthful of live finch – “I brought you a toy.”

    • Fennel is like mint – be prepared to use extreme containment measures, because it will spread.

      The goldfinches overwinter here, once they turn brown. As soon as they turn gold, they leave. Ungrateful little birds.

      • I pulled it before the spread, but … 7ft tall. Whew. I may start a plant for the spring, but I want to prep a large set-in container first. This worked for thyme and oregano.

        Goldfinches are cute, until the first dozen or so arrive. Then, the Gold Wing chapter of Hell’s Finches takes over the feeder. They shake down the grackles and jays for seed and lunch money.

  2. Must refrain from suggesting connection between recent events with the Catholic Church and the scarcity of cardinal spottings….

  3. My hillbilly grandmother called the first one a mourning cloak because we also had yellow and black striped tiger swallowtails

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