The monarchs are back. Well, at least one monarch. This one was trying to rest in the goldenrod this morning, but found himself being buffeted by breezes, honey bees, wasps and other pollinators. You can see the wear on his wings — appearing as scratches in some of his orange areas.
The goldenrod has been a busy place for mason bees and honey bees, not to mention moths, beetles and butterflies. We are watch and wait, ever hopeful the monarchs will stop by on their yearly migration southward.
We keep a patch of giant goldenrod growing at the front of the house to provide a way station for visiting monarch butterflies, but other insects make themselves at home there, including all manner of bees, wasps and wheelbugs. Wheelbugs, named for the cogged half wheel atop their armor, lay in wait in the yellow flowers, stalking their prey. The wheelbug in the top shot had caught a bumble bee and dragged it at least 5-6 feet before I stopped following it. The one in the second photo snagged a wasp.
The insects insert their beak into the prey, injecting a fluid that paralyzes and dissolves the victim’s insides, which accounts for why there seemed to be no fight left in either the bee or wasp.
Not all the color belongs to the flowers. The succession of blooms in the small, then large goldenrods ensures a good four to six weeks of pure butterfly paradise. The cooler weather and light rain has also brought out the honey bees and other pollinators.