Bees and Butterflies Still Busy in the Garden

According to the website Monarch Watch, the peak for Monarch Butterfly abundance in Chicago should be roughly during the first half of September.

2014-08-01 08.53.11

However, in our garden the Monarchs seem to be on an expedited timetable. This year in July and August we would often see multiple Monarchs, as many as five at once. In September, though, there’s only been one at a time.

DSC_0679 Monarch

Regardless, I wish them safe travels on their migration to Mexico.

Painted Lady Butterfly
Painted Lady Butterfly

Today there was also a Painted Lady feeding on the Mexican Sunflower (Tithonia rotundifolia). Looks like she is sucking nectar through a straw. Tithonia continues to be our champion butterfly magnet.

DSC_0725 painted lady

Painted Ladies are migratory butterflies, just like the Monarchs. They too like to spend the winter in Mexico. Can’t say I blame them.

In our garden the butterflies like the Tithonia best of all the September blooms. They will also visit Buddleia and Joe Pye Weeds (Eutrochum maculatum).

DSC_0719 honeybee new enagland aster

Bees,on the other hand, are all over the Asters and the Goldenrods. Here’s a Honeybee on New England Aster (Symphyotrichum novae angliae).DSC_0718 bee asterAnother Honeybee. I took most of these photos rather than Judy, so they are a little fuzzy.

DSC_0711 sweat bee aster

Here’s a Sweat Bee, see how its legs are coated in pollen?


Another Sweat Bee.


The bumblebees love the Asters, Goldenrods, AND the Tithonia. They are all over. I often find them sleeping on the Tithonia flowers.

What’s buzzing around your garden these days?

41 Comments on “Bees and Butterflies Still Busy in the Garden”

  1. Lovely photos…I think we get Monarch butterflies here in Australia, and I’m pretty sure I used to watch them as a child living in Africa….well, if they like Mexico, they would love Africa! As far as bees go, we have a Chinese tallow tree in our garden, and the bees hum around it all summer long.

  2. Jason, wonderful post, lovely photographs too. We were supposed to have a mass migration of painted ladies into the UK this year from Europe, they are not natives here, and I haven’t seen one. Your garden us clearly a wildlife haven.

  3. Earlier in the week I had 2 pairs of monarchs–they were literally in pairs– gorging on a rather large tall patch of New England Aster. But by Wednesday 1 pair had left, and the other pair had left by Thursday.

  4. PS I have tons of bumblebees on all the asters–and I have a lot of asters. Smooth Blue, Aromatic, and Heath, mixed in with Prairie Baby’s Breath, and in shade, Short’s Aster, White Snakeroot, and Elm-leaved Goldenrod.

  5. Lovely photos, Jason.
    I am in Kansas City (Missouri) for a few days and visited the Kauffman Garden yesterday where there were more monarchs than you could count. It was a thrilling sight. They were like a fluttering cloud, feasting on the abundant plantings of Asclepias Currasavica and A Tuberosa “Hello Yellow”, both still in bloom. A worker there described the milkweed as “power bars” for them on their way to Mexico. The HQ of is about 50 miles west at the U of Kansas in Lawrence, Kansas.

  6. I’ve seen more butterflies during September than the other months of summer, maybe because it was so hot very little was flowering, most are the Swallowtail. I also have fennel for their caterpillars so they have nectar, they love Verbena bonarienis and the Zinnias.

  7. Pingback: Bees and Butterflies Still Busy in the Garden | Old School Garden

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