It has been hot and muggy this week, with highs in the mid 90s (~35 C). Because of the high humidity, there was heavy dew at night, and the moisture brought out Percy Shelley, one of the garden’s resident box turtles, early on Wednesday morning. A high point of my week was watching him stalk and eat an enormous leopard slug (although turtle vs. slug didn’t make for a very exciting pursuit). I also fed him a tomato before he disappeared back into the undergrowth–everyone needs protein and veggies for a balanced diet.
Anyway, another week has come and gone, so it is time for “Six on Saturday.” Lots of insects this week. Also, check out The Propagator for links to other garden bloggers who are participating.
1. Canna ‘Flaming Kabobs’
The color of these flowers is incredibly intense and saturated, and I love the way that they stand up on tall spikes. This canna came from the Yucca Do nursery in Texas, just before they went out of business, but the same clone is now being offered by Plant Delights.
2. Verbascum chaixii ‘Album’ (white nettle-leaved mullein)
You can see the yellow-flowered form of this species in Six on Saturday #2.
3. Oncopeltus fasciatus (large milkweed bug)
When my son was just a little guy, he came running into the house one evening and breathlessly informed me that there were two-headed bugs on the butterfly weed. His first lesson on the birds and the bees (and the bugs) followed.
4. Labidomera clivicollis (milkweed leaf beetle)
I’m fascinated by the way that both the milkweed bug and the milkweed leaf beetle have evolved virtually the same color scheme to warn predators that it’s not a good idea to eat insects which feed on toxic milkweed. Most people are familiar with Batesian mimicry, in which a harmless species gains protection from predators by mimicking a venomous or toxic species (e.g. scarlet king snake mimicking the venomous coral snake). The similarity of milkweed bugs and beetles is an example of Müllerian mimicry in which two toxic species that have common predators use the same warning signals. A predator that encounters one species will learn to avoid the other as well.
5. Passiflora incarnata (maypop) with Popillia japonica (Japanese beetle) and very tiny ants
The native Passiflora incarnata is basically a weed in my garden, but such a beautiful one. It spreads by underground stolons and has a tendency to completely cover small shrubs. However, the vines are very easy to pull up, so I just yank them when they get out of control and leave a few to get big so that I can enjoy the flowers. The fruit is theoretically edible, but it is insipid compared to the cultivated tropical passionfruit.
Unfortunately, Japanese beetles are eating most of the flowers right now. It will be a couple more weeks before the adult beetles lay their eggs and die, and we are free of this pest until next June.
6. Hemerocallis ‘August Flame’ with Battus philenor (pipevine swallowtail butterfly)
The butterfly is sure there is still a bit of nectar left down there…somewhere…if it can just reach…