It’s a boy! Sexing Monarch butterflies!

Insect Monarch

This Monarch butterfly is a boy! You can tell because there is a small black dot on his hindwing (lower wing). Look for it on the narrow vein close to the butterfly’s abdomen (back end of his body).  Who ever thought sexing butterflies could be so easy?

Insect Monarch 2

Here is a shot of the underside of the hindwing. This Monarch is enjoying nectar from wing stem sunflowers. Find some tasty flowers and enjoy butterfly watching while the weather is still warm and wonderful.


Wildflowers of Aug/Sept: Water Pepper

Flower Water Pepper

Water pepper, AKA marshpepper knotweed grows in southern Maryland in damp areas. It is also called smartweed, though I thought smartweed was pink. The little white blossoms and seeds were used by colonists as a spice similar to what you might use in chili. If you taste one, you will discover they are HOT! Some say they taste similar to Sichuan pepper. They are enjoyed by ducks, small birds and small mammals.

Wildflowers of August: Thoroughwort (I know it’s September but…)

Flower Thoroughwort

Thoroughwort blooms in southern Maryland in August and September in damp soil. It’s a member of the aster family and is also called white boneset, feverwort, agueweed and Indian sage. It is beloved by butterflies, wasps and bees which can cover the blossoms so completely that you can’t see the flowers. Has some medicinal uses but should be avoided because it can be toxic and is poisonous to humans and livestock.


Wildflowers of August: Virgin’s Bower

Flower Virgin's Bower

Virgin’s Bower is a woody vine that blooms in August in damp soil in southern Maryland. It is a sweet-smelling clematis. It can grow to 20 feet and often covers everything in its path with so many blossoms they look like a heavy white snow. After they go to seed they are called Old Man’s Beard. Each seed has its own little gray beard.

Wildflowers of August: Rattlesnake Master

Flower Rattlesnake master

Rattlesnake Master grows in August in southern Maryland in damp areas. It is a member of the carrot family. The entire plant is bluish or grayish green. The color reminds me of Dusty Miller. The unusual flowers are prickly balls. I find them so unique that they startle me every time I see them.

Wildflowers of August: Ironweed

flower Ironweed

Ironweed is very popular with butterflies. It grows in damp areas of southern Marlyand in August. I believe it is called ironweed because its tall stems are strong enough to survive the snows in winter.

Per Wikipedia: Vernonia galamensis is a plant in the sunflower family, known for its use as an oilseed. This species, often called ironweed, is the largest source of vernonia oil, which is rich in a useful epoxy fatty acid called vernolic acid and is used to make plastics, rubbery coatings, and drying agents. Use of this oil as a replacement for traditional plasticizers and binders in the production of paints and PVC shows promise as a method of reducing smog pollution.