Swallowtail on Sunflower

Silphium integrifoliumRosinweed, Silphium integrifolium

As summer progresses I find it increasingly difficult to identify the confusing mix of sunflowers. Books such as “Ozark Wildflowers” by Don Kurz really help.

The flower here is called Rosinweed. The butterfly is another Easter Tiger Swallowtail. They are the most abundant butterfly at the moment. I photographed this butterfly late yesterday with the sun shining from behind.

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Monarchs Mating

Danaus plexippusMonarch, Danaus plexippus

This is what butterfly sex looks like!

I found this couple of Monarch butterflies joined together today in the middle of the prairie. At first I saw them flying jointed like this and I had no idea what was going on. After they landed I was able to approach and watch as they sat motionless for several minutes. I carefully backed away so that I wouldn’t disturb them.

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Milkweeds for Monarchs

Danaus plexippusMonarch Butterfly, Danaus plexippus,

Chip Taylor at Monarch Watch promotes planting Milkweeds as a way to help save the Monarchs. This afternoon I had a chance to observe first hand why he suggests that.

I watched this butterfly in the middle of a large field filled with scores of different plants in full bloom. But this Monarch didn’t seem interested in stopping to feed. It was moving fast as it kept circling hundreds of feet around me. I noticed it kept coming back to the same spot. When I went to inspect I found this inconspicuous plant, a Tall Green Milkweed (Asclepias hirtella). It would go down near the base of the plant bounce up and down. Was it laying eggs?

Finally at the end it few up and perched backlit on top of the plant for a second and then flew off.

I suggest buying some milkweeds for your garden.

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Hummingbird Clearwing

Hemaris thysbeHummingbird Clearwing, Hemaris thysbe

This morning I found another moth that could be mistaken for a hummingbird. It’s name is very helpful since not only does it look like a hummingbird but it has clear wings. The moth is sucking nectar from a Prairie Blazing Star. There are hundreds of these plants in full bloom on the prairie now.

Tomorrow is the PGT Butterfly walk. It starts at 10 AM at the PGT visitor Center and will be lead by butterfly expert Donna Brunet. The walk is free and open to the public. Please email us if you plan to attend.

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Twelve-spotted Skimmer

Libellula pulchellaTwelve-spotted Skimmer, Libellula pulchella

I stumbled upon Noppadol Paothong this morning at the PGT. He was taking butterfly pictures for the Missouri Department of Conservation. As we were talking he pointed out this specacular dragonfly, the Twelve-spotted Skimmer.

Noppadol is a world-famous wildlife photographer. You can see his images each month is the Missouri Conservationist magazine and on his website:

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Buttonbush for Butterflies

Cephalanthus occidentalisNow that the milkweeds are going to seed you have to look elsewhere to find butterflies. The golfball shaped flowers of Buttonbush is one of the best. This shrub is native to all the North America except the Northwest. I found this Eastern Tiger Swallowtail near one of our small ponds today. Buttonbush is often found near water.

The scientific name of buttonbush is Cephalanthus occidentals.

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White-lined Sphinx

Hyles lineataWhite-lined Sphinx, Hyles lineata

I rarely photograph moths at the Prairie Garden Trust because they tend to fly at night. Sometimes I’m lucky and catch one during daylight like this White-lined Sphinx feeding on phlox. It would be easy to mistake this insect for a hummingbird.

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PGT Butterfly Walk – Saturday August 2nd – Please attend!

Papilio glaucus
The purple spike flowers of Prairie Blazing Star are reaching peak bloom. That will help attract butterflies for the Butterfly Walk that will be held next week. The walk is free and open to the public. It starts at 10 AM at the PGT Visitor Center. We usually finish near noon. We are lucky to have Donna Brunet to lead the walk again. Please contact us if you would like to attend. Walking near the PGT visitor center this afternoon I photographed an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail feeding on the Prairie Blazing Star.

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We still have Quail!

Colinus virginianus
On a walk this morning I heard the loud clear whistle of Northern Bobwhite. It is one of my favorite summer sounds.

The new Sibley Guide to Birds describes them as “Uncommon, local and declining.” We are lucky that they persist here and breed at the PGT every year.

I took this picture earlier in the year.

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Halloween Pennant

Celithemis eponinaHalloween Pennant, Celithemis eponina


I found this spectacular dragonfly at the edge of the 5-acre Prairie this afternoon. Halloween Pennants have always been my favorite dragonfly. I love the “Halloween” colors.

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