Mariton: Milkweeds and Butterflies
by Tim Burris, Preserve Manager. Photos by Carole Mebus.
This week we had three different milkweeds in bloom at Mariton, and we saw a lot of butterflies feeding on the nectar. The Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) is the most common at Mariton. It cycles here, so there will be new blooms even as old flower head start setting seeds. We saw lots of Great-spangled Fritillaries on these blossoms, but I thought I would feature Carole’s photo of an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail sipping nectar.
The Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa) is a beautiful low plant. They are just starting to open at Mariton, but are already attracting butterflies. You can tell this Gray Hairstreak is small when you look at it compared to the size of the Butterfly Weed’s unopened blossoms.
Another tiny butterfly is the Tawny Skipper. Compare it to the Bumblebee feeding next to it. Both insects are taking advantage of Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) – which doesn’t grow in a swamp at Mariton. There isn’t a lot of this milkweed species, but it is spectacular.
Little Wood Satyrs are pretty common at the beginning of June in the shade along the edge of the fields. This brood is almost finished for the season, and we likely won’t see them again until next spring. This one is showing wear and tear. Will there still be one or two this Saturday during our Annual Butterfly Census?