Monday, August 4, 2008

bees everywhere, butterflies not so much

watering Keith 

bag of succulents from farmer's market

the same in our planter 

black butterfly & weeds called the lawn

This weekend we both worked in the garden. I took a lot of photos of bugs, bees and even one very small butterfly. We had delightful weather it was warm, sunny and very dry which, if you don't know Washington DCs'  triple-H weather Hot, Humid and Hazy, dry is not normal for August. That dry weather made being outside fun. I undertook a car washing, then I let it dry in the shade and later for the first time in almost 3 years I waxed and polished the whole thing by my self! Quite an accomplishment, if I do say so myself. Now all that is left is to vacuum and window wash the inside. Keith spent his time pulling weeds and digging in the garden mixing in manure compost, later sewing coxcomb seeds.  Sunday, again we had the great weather and again we went to the yard after Keith's visit to the Farmer's Market at Dupont Circle to buys some goods. I saw to the need to clean up our compost area because the raccoons disrupted it and other creatures were lurking to get free leftovers. We pulled up a lot of broad leaf plantain or plantago rugelii that was taking over the yard and getting ready to spread lots of seeds. Pulling weeds isn't much fun unless you do it together and focus on the one type. You can see some of this broad leaf or door step plantain in the blurry black butterfly photo or go to this link for a full description and photos. It turns out one man's weed is the next buckeye moth's dinner sadly. 
The vast majority of today's photos are close up bees. I identified a bunch but not all of them.
It was fun watching and photographing them, then coming in with the pictures and hunting through What's that to see if I could find a match and learn about them. The wool carder bee, new to me, is a solo bee that nests in holes in wood left by carpenter bees. They say he claims an area of a flower garden and chases off other bees too make an attractive area for the female wool carder bees to feed on nectar and mate. This bee is aggressive to other bees only for this purpose of guarding the nectar for the females. The females then collect wool from fuzzy leaves and make a ball that they carry off to build the nest. One post on the What's that bug website shows the male and another describes and shows pictures of the bee working on a lamb's ear plant leaf and a leaf that has been stripped of almost all it's wool. In our garden we have several mullein plants with furry leaves but I haven't found them carding the wool off yet. I was surprised how many different bees come to our flower garden and excited to see that we have a wide selection, not all of which I got photos of this weekend. Now that the small nectar rich flowers of spearmint and lavender and sunflowers are full of flowers we should have many more days of visiting insects to study. Sadly the house wren never had a mate and the nests are quiet, the house wren has not been seen or heard this weekend. Maybe it went down the road with a new mate and built a new nest or maybe the season is over and they have begun to migrate south. Keith brought from the farm market a selection of lovely green succulents for the two flower boxes on our front door step which I planted the same day. The little pale blue butterfly on the spearmint flower was blowing in the wind so much I took numerous shots and only got blurry ones at best but I promised some butterfly in my last post and I wanted to deliver. I should not have promised because soon as I did I stopped seeing the big ones in the yard this one wasn't easy to capture in digital memory. Even so it was a beautiful little thing, powder blue with some small spots.  I tried to get a name and this is the best I could find. Seems there are a multitude of these Azure blue butterflies. Here is a link to a much better picture of what I think is the same butterfly I tried to capture in the breeze it is only about as big as your index finger nail: Cummer Azure - Celastrina neglecta


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