Pollination Thugs

By April 10, 2010 Day-to-Day, Insects No Comments

After a frustrating night when I was up until 1 AM trying to get a painting to gel, it was very pleasant to wander around in my garden for awhile this morning. I tend to spend half an hour, forty-five minutes or so out there most mornings, then come inside, shower to remove any bloodsucking hitchhikers, and get to work. (Given the size of the garden, probably anyone who wasn’t the gardener would have a hard time spending that much time out there, but I like to check on all the individual plants in the morning and go “Yay!” or “Crud!” as appropriate.

I am tiger swallowtail crack!

This morning, we had two dramatic Tiger Swallowtails and what was probably a spicebush swallowtail flittering around the garden. The tigers were not interested in sharing with the spicebush, and drove him off whenever he settled too close to them in a shocking display of butterfly racism. Thugs. There’s plenty of nectar for everybody! (I should note that the spicebush swallowtail did not seem particularly troubled by this, and just flitted off somewhere else and then snuck back and noshed when the tiger swallowtail’s back was turned.)

They were all fascinated by the woodland phlox, which is sort of lavender colored. The creeping woodland phlox, on the other hand, which is bright pink–couldn’t care less, gave it the passing glance they gave the petunias, headed straight for the taller lavender phlox. Go figure.

The other plants they were interested in, however, were my blueberry bushes. I honestly hadn’t thought of them as a butterfly flower–they’re little almost-closed white bells, not particularly showy, and they seemed so hard for a pollinator to get into that I was vaguely wondering how I was gonna get blueberries at all. But apparently they hold great fascination for the swallowtails, who were hanging upside down with their probascises…probasci?…shoved in the little bells. (An enterprising bee was doing the same thing.) When the spicebush swallowtail wandered by, and had to be driven off for daring to share the same airspace with the tigers, the bullying butterfly returned to the blueberries, but on the other bush. I wanted to cheer–there’s my blueberries! Track that pollen, you brute!

The only other plant they displayed even a passing interest in was the swamp jessamine, which is in full dramatic bloom. The bees seem much more interested in that one than the butterflies.

…And I just glanced out the studio window, and I think I just saw one of those tiger swallowtails chase a mourning dove. Good lord. I’m gonna come out there someday and a tiger swallowtail is gonna be slapping a lead pipe into its feelers and telling me that it’s a nice little garden I have here, and it’d be a shame if anything were to happen to it…