Check Out These Pages, Too!

"Possibility and promise greet me each day as I walk out into my garden. My vigor is renewed when I breathe in the earthiness and feel the dirt between my fingers. My garden is a peaceful spot to refresh my soul." Meems

Welcome to my Central Florida Garden Blog where we garden combining Florida natives, Florida-Friendly plants, and tropicals.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Is It Possible They Know?

Swallowtail Butterflies: Tigers, Giants, and Spicebush
... notice some have tails missing and some have tattered wings (usually indicates older butterflies).

Tropical Storm Fay has yet to trounce our part of the state which is the place she was predicted to hit head on initially. She has criss-crossed all around us dumping copious amounts of rain and winds below, beside and above of us but not yet even a little rain has come our way from her trail. We may still get a rain shower from some of the feeder bands today but that is what they've been saying for the past three (or is it four now?) days. (Our prayers go out to the folks on the East Coast and in other areas of the state who have been pounded by some flooding rains for two days as Fay came to an almost stand still).

No rain but we have had uncommon and fairly steady winds and mostly grey clouds hanging over-head for these few days. Nothing we can't manage mind you.

Typically butterflies do not agree with gusty winds and cloudy days. So they are not usually so visible on these sorts of days. They require sunshine to energize and heat up their wings which in turn gives them the fuel they need to fly, so to speak.

So seeing them these last few dreary days dancing about throughout my gardens defying the winds while holding onto flowers as they do with such deftness has drawn my attention to them even more than usual ... if that is possible. I've been watching them with curiosity when inside from my kitchen window, from my working spot on the back porch, and as I do my gardening.
I find myself wondering... is it possible they know a storm is brewing? Is it possible they are storing up nectar for when the rains come and they must find shelter for an extended period? (Notice the bee sharing the penta nectar in the above photo-- I didn't even see it until I viewed the pic ... photo bonus).

It is as if they DO have an instinct about the weather and what is to come so they are busily flitting around taking their chances in spite of the wind that blows them about while they sip nectar with inate skill.

It occurred to me to attempt some photos in between the worst of the winds. I was certainly happy when any of them turned out viewable. These are all swallowtails but I've seen so many sulfurs, monarchs, zebra longwings, and fritillaries holding on to flowers for what appears to be dear life.

Again (photo bonus above) don't miss the smaller flying critter following closely in the path of the Giant Swallowtail.

I have no scientific back up for my theory of butterflies storing up nectar whatsoever just my own wandering mind observing their behavior. If anyone does know I am all about learning something new today.
Hummingbird Moths... Lots of Them
I have been purposely visiting the garden each evening at dusk just to watch the hummingbird moths enjoying their time alone in the garden (well, them and the bugs). With poor lighting and their habit of constant movement I gave up on capturing a still photo. I finally resorted to a video which is less than fantastic quality but I thought I'd share a clip (30 seconds) of them with you just by chance you might share my excitement for these fascinating creatures who only visit the garden as the sun has dropped below the horizon.
Stay safe everyone and have a fabulous Friday, Meems


  1. Meems, good morning. There is so much we don't know about the workings of insects and animals, it's certainly possible they can tell. At least to me it is! I did read that they have to find safe places out of the rain, so I provide overhangs in the garden for them to hide beneath. You have big leaves they can shelter under.

    Hopefully the rains will be gentle when they reach you and not harm any butterflies. Did I forget to say, that I loved your shots! very nice...the penta is a perfect perch! I have pink (of course) but I think they must prefer that brilliant red!


  2. Beautiful pics!! We were pelted with rain (I think we got 15-20") but you should have seen all the butterflies and bugs flying around yesterday. It was still really breezy and totally overcast, sometimes even raining a little bit, but the little critters were everywhere. It's like they'd been in hiding for 3 days and were as stir-crazy as we were. It was really cool to be outside witnessing it. :-)

  3. I hope you get some rain Meems but no flooding or strong winds. The pentas seem to be a big attraction in the garden. Are they a perennial for you? I have to grow them as annuals here in Virginia. In fact, they just got a shipment of them in at the garden center. Your video of the hummingbird moths was great. I've seen them in the afternoon in my garden.

  4. We haven't had much rain here either - about 1 to 2 inches. Strange how it works. I love your video. Those are busy little guys and girls!

  5. Meems, I am sure creatures of nature have a sense that tells them of approachig weather. I remember a study about animals going for higher ground before a Tsunami comes, and here if cattle are all in a group with there backs toward the wind we know we are going to get a heavy rain. So why not butterflies? Your pictures of them were wonderful. Isn't it amazing how quickly they move!

    The pentas in your garden are lovely. I have them in a couple of containers this year-a new to me plant-and have enjoyed them so much. But they are annuals here so will have to get more next year. I often look at your gardens with envy then think of those hot and humid summers and am content to give up lush year round gardens. :)

  6. great images of the winged creatures. you and your camera work well together! lol
    i like your theory on them storing up energy for the future.
    btw, my butterfly house is now housing some kind of wasp. it doesn't have an opening(to clean it out) so i'm not quite sure how to get rid of them without risking getting stung. i am not happy to be having them room there!
    also i want you to teach me how to do that link thing you do. very cool indeed!
    i don't remember seeing the hummingbird moth in florida? have they always been around? very cool to see them live in action. they move so quickly but nice to have them in the garden.
    very nice post thanks for sharing your slice of paradise with us in such a dry spell-it gives hope the rain will come!

  7. butterflies are so pretty. especially the ones you photograph. they just seem to have the easy-breezy life...

  8. What beautiful butterflies! And I agree, I think they must know when bad weather is approaching. I grew up on the coast of Oregon, and we got some terrible storms (although, not hurricane-terrible, I will admit) and we could always tell because the seagulls would fly inland from the river and the ocean to roost.

  9. Hi Meems....what a wonderful post.....I really do believe that animals and insects 'just know' what is to come weather wise.......

    I love the hummingbird moth, I have had them in the garden on hot summers.....but not this year.....

  10. I do know this. Your photos of them are beautiful.

  11. Hi Meems, I think they do know. It's probably something instinctive reacting to air pressure or some other condition they can sense. I'm so glad you haven't been inundated with rain. I hope you do get enough when Fay makes her way to your area, but not enough to cause any problems.

    Your critter photos are wonderful. We've had a lot of yellow swallowtails around here this year, and I've seen hummingbird moths in our garden this year for the first time. It's so exciting! The more things are growing, filling in, and blooming, the more winged creatures are hanging around. I'm still trying to capture the hummingbird moths, and hummingbirds on film. Still shots have only yielded blurs. Video's a good idea.

    I was trying to capture our bats on video, but it's just a little too dark when they show up. I'd probably need a night camera like Shirl uses to capture their nightly air ballet performance.

    I hope you have a great weekend, and just the right amount of rain.

  12. Meems, this video is great. Forget quality :) but being able to see this sort of event is very exciting. Thank you for sharing,

  13. gail, good morning (a day later)and happy Saturday. I am convinced now after observing them this week they know... I'm not sure about storing up nectar but that makes sense too. It's good you provide places for them to find shelter. they are quite adept at making use of crevices in trees and roosting in the underside of leaves so I am sure your woodlands are the PERFECT place for butterflies.

    The pentas, as simple as they are, seem to be on the top of the list for butterfly dining. They do love the red but pink is also a favorite.

    greenjeans That's a lot of rain! It sounds like you were thinking the same I was... it just is so unusual to see them out in rain or wind. But I am guessing it is steadily warm enough here now that their wings were solarized enough to get them around. AND they were hungry and possibly taking some chances. :-)

    Hope all is well where you are after the storm.

  14. Pentas are long lasting at Hoe and Shovel,Perennial Garden Lover. Some of my pentas have been in the ground for over 10 years. Sounds crazy even when I say it. They are amazingly hardy and standard fare in my garden. They also seed themselves so I am constantly digging up misplaced pentas to transfer to a more appropriate site.

    I'm not sure why but the hummingbird moths just do not come out until late dusk around here. Have never seen one during the day.

    Thank you. It's too bad we can't order up a weather menu isn't it, Nancy? It would be nice sometimes.

    I've been thinking about you, Susan. I thought for sure you were getting pounded by the reports I was hearing... must have been further East. We really weren't affected too much at all. We got some debris from the winds blowing out the dead stuff out of the trees and a little rain. Glad you liked the video. Do you see the hummingbird moth? Or know why they come out so late in the day down here?

  15. You are so right about butterflies moving quickly, Beckie... usually just as you get them in focus. I had to chuckle at your comment re: envy vs. humid hot summers vs. giving up lush. I don't blame you right now because there are days I'm willing to give it up too. :-) But then I remind myself how much I LOVE, LOVE being here in the winter and spring. I honestly don't think I could live without seeing green in the winter.

    Wasps do love to find hiding places to take up residence don't they, Marmee? You could just let them have it as their home and move it further away so no child will get hurt.

    I'll be happy to walk you through the link back... just give me a call whenever you want to know. Yes, I've always had the hummingbird moths in summer for as long as I can remember. Only you wouldn't notice them unless you were out in the garden at dusk. Even then you have to be paying attention or almost looking for them because they are so discreet in their visitation... moving quickly and only visiting certain flowers. Sometimes you hear them first before you actually see them.

  16. s/s/m, Thanks. I'm going to start calling you for post titles... that is so appropo ... easy, breezy life... I'm going to use it in a future post!

    lacey, do you have a blog? I can't seem to link back to you. I have always thought larger animals knew about the weather but insects? Now that is amazing.

    cheryl, I haven't done any research on the hummingbird moth but now you have me wondering if their appearing has to do warm weather.

    thank you, mother nature, I'm happy you like the photos... watching them is really a treat but capturing them in a still shot is a challenge as you know.

  17. Do you have bats in general, Garden Girl, or do you do things to try to attract them? They come out about the same time as the hummingbird moths. My camera just doesn't do well with constant movement or night time vision so I can't imagine trying to photograph (black)bats in the dusky light... Shirl is a master at capturing all her birdies and critters.

    Fay has given us some much needed rain and I cannot complain at all about the inconvenience of the wind when so many folks are flooded out on the other coast. We were definitely spared any hardship.

    It makes me happy Ewa, to know you liked seeing the moths (like I do)even on the video with 'much less than great' quality. :-) Thank you!

  18. I couldn't wait to get to your blog to find out if you had been harrassed by Fay. I am sure you would like some of her moisture but not too much.

    I just love the header photo you have now. I feel like I have been gone a long time and everything has changed.

    Wildlife is always much more atuned to the weather than we are. I bet you are right about the butterflies and bees feeling the change in barometer etc.

    Luna always tells us when conditions are good for a rain way before the weatherman.

    We need rain here. We have had only 1/2" of rain this month. I have been watering the newly established plants like crazy plus keeping an eye on everything else. Our lawn is going brown. Then I see your beautiful flower beds. They are just wonderful. I hope you don't have to deal with the angry side of Fay.

  19. Lisa: I've been missing you... so sorry about your computer troubles. You've had plenty to keep you busy with your new project.

    Happy you like the header photo-- it is a portion of the back garden taken the first of August.

    God put something in the critters to make them adaptable to all the conditions I suppose. We could learn a few things from them. Luna's a smarty, too.

    Can you believe you need rain after all that flooding in the spring. Too bad it couldn't just even itself out and give you what you need when you need it.

    Glad you're back to blogging!

  20. Your fine photos and lovely post attest to the fact that you obviously weathered the storm, Meems. Hugs ...

  21. I just read the bad news about Fay and popped over here to see if you were okay. I'm so glad you haven't been affected by the storm!

    I don't know about butterflies, but I know that our birds often disappear before a storm hits us here and usually before we know there's going to be one.

  22. joey: Yes, we cannot complain... we have weathered the storm quite well... other areas were not so fortunate.

    amy: thanks for stopping by to check on us. Fay has caused lots of hardship (and some deaths) for folks in other parts of our state. The Tampa Bay Area was spared the worst of it. We have had cloudy, rainy days and wind... very survivable!

  23. Great photos of the butterflies. I find they are almost impossible to photograph. They're either camera shy or I must look hungry when I approach them. And here you go and get so many good shots in the wind no less :)

    I'm going back to hunting fungus. At least mushrooms have nothing to fear from me.

  24. Lovely Blog style and content.
    Great Pics.

    Come by and visit.



  25. I enjoyed your blog and especially the butterfly articles. I'm a butterfly photographer and organic gardener. Jealous of your Giant Swallowtail photos as I've not been able to get wild photos. Once I was grabbed by the Secret Service for trying to photograph a Giant Swallowtail on the street where VP Al Gore was vacationing.

  26. Your pictures amaze me. I love the butterflies.


Have a blessed day,

September 2010

Back Garden: October 2010

Louise Philippe: Antique Rose

Tropical Pathway