A Skipper, a Ladybug and a Monarch Caterpillar on my Honeyvine Milkweed

Look what I found on my Honeyvine Milkweed yesterday afternoon. A skipper, a ladybug and a Monarch butterfly caterpillar!

Silver-Spotted Skipper

This is a Silver-spotted Skipper  He was pretty flittery, and then when I read about him I found out that is a trait of skippers, which are different from butterflies, which are different from moths.

Silver-Spotted Skipper

Wonder why his eyes are so big and black.

Silver-Spotted Skipper

Then I saw this little ladybug. Except he was bigger than most little ladybugs.

Ladybug on Honeyvine Milkweed 01

I haven’t seen very many ladybugs this year.

Ladybug on Honeyvine Milkweed 02

This one was quite speedy so most of my pix were out of focus.

Ladybug on Honeyvine Milkweed 03

He has a little moustache on his back. See the little face.

Ladybug on Honeyvine Milkweed 04

And then my favorite find.

Silver-Spotted Skipper

Monarch butterfly caterpillar! I’m so excited!

I’ve been fascinated by Monarchs since I read this article in National Geographic when scientists found their winter home in Mexico. We see them in late summer here in Oklahoma and I’m so happy to have one continue the migration from my backyard.

Monarch Caterpillar on CottonmouthCreek 02

I found out a butterfly would have laid an egg on one of these leaves recently and now it’s a caterpillar. I saw one Monarch bouncing about the front yard a couple of weeks ago so that might have been mom.

Monarch Caterpillar on CottonmouthCreek 06

He should turn into a chrysalis before too long and at that point I think I’ll put him in a jar. When the butterfly emerges it doesn’t take long for them to flex their wings and then fly away so I would likely miss it if I leave him outside. I may miss it anyway, but I’m hoping for some pictures before he leaves.

After reading up on the life cycle I’m hoping there are more eggs under other leaves on the vine. At first they’re too tiny to notice, but now I’m on Monarch watch.

Anyone else out there creating a Monarch habitat to help these guys out? Since Milkweed is the only thing they eat, I’ll have a lot of Honeyvine Milkweed seeds over the next few weeks.


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Honey Bees and Butterflies and Honeyvine Milkweed

My yard isn’t swarming with honey bees, but then this is the first time I’ve let this little vine hang around long enough to bloom.

Cottonmouth Creek Honey Bee 01

This is the vine I where I found the little snake last year. Mom doesn’t like snakes so she pulled all the vines off the fence and we got no flowers.

Cottonmouth Creek Honey Bee 02

This vine pops up, literally, all over the yard.  I have to pull it out of the irises, the day lilies, the hostas, from under the holly and Nandina, and it is constantly coming up through my thyme and oregano.

Honey Bee on CottonmouthCreek

So I was surprised when these little white flowers showed up last week. I tried to take pictures a few times, but the vine is so delicate, any gentle breeze sets it fluttering. And there aren’t very many gentle breezes in Oklahoma. It’s usually plain old wind.

Cottonmouth Creek Butterfly 01

The vine is called Honeyvine Milkweed, among other names, and while it’s attractive to Monarch butterflies, it’s very invasive (I can attest to that) so it’s not a welcome plant in the garden.

Cottonmouth Creek Butterfly 07

I’ll watch for Monarchs to stop by, but in the meantime this American Lady enjoyed a snack.

She was on the vine when I first came outside, and of course she flew away as I approached. But later when I was taking pictures of the bees, she came back.

I guess I’m not so scary if I’m already there.

Cottonmouth Creek Butterfly 03

If the bees–and there were several–tried to poach on the same flower, a flutter of wings sent them off to find a vacant bloom. Evidently the nectar is pretty sweet. The honeybees made a point to land on almost every flower. The butterfly didn’t flitter around much, but made sure to get every drop before she moved on.

CottonmouthCreek Butterfly 06

I would love to have a camera with a nice macro lens…

CottonmouthCreek Butterfly 08

…but I don’t think I did too bad with my little Nikon Coolpix.

CottonmouthCreek Butterfly 09

I didn’t know these butterflies had little blue spots along with the orange and black.

Cottonmouth Creek Butterfly 02

Since these vines are so invasive, and I already have them popping up all over the place, I’ll pinch off the seed heads as they form. And it looks like they’ve started.

CottonmouthCreek Honeybee 04

I will continue to pull the Honeyvine Milkweed out of my herbs and other flowers, but I will let it flourish on this section of fence. So what if it attracts a snake or two? Come fall, I’ll look forward to the bees and butterflies and more photo ops.




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The Eclipse From My Backyard

I opted to watch the Great American Eclipse through the trees in my back yard.

Eclipse OKC one11 cdt

And Zeus got caught without his glasses when a breeze blew the shadow of the leaves the other way.

Zeus says Where are my eclipse glasses

There was one bird singing out there, otherwise all was quiet.

Hope you got a chance to enjoy it.

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Rusty Bed Springs

I am fascinated by shapes, patterns and texture.

Rusty Things by Jan Miller Stratton on Cottonmouth Creek

Especially up close corroded rusty old things.

Rusty Things by Jan Miller Stratton on Cottonmouth Creek

Oily railroad ties on working tracks.

Rusty Things by Jan Miller Stratton on Cottonmouth Creek

Rotten railroad ties on abandoned tracks.

Rusty Things by Jan Miller Stratton on Cottonmouth Creek

Old barns.

Rusty Things by Jan Miller Stratton on Cottonmouth Creek

Rotten barn wood.

Rusty Springs 05

Rose rocks.

Rusty Things by Jan Miller Stratton on Cottonmouth Creek

The curly cues that hold grape vines to everything they come near.

Rusty Things by Jan Miller Stratton on Cottonmouth Creek

Sea shells.

Rusty Things by Jan Miller Stratton on Cottonmouth Creek

Tree rings, tree bark, and pine cones.

Rusty Things by Jan Miller Stratton on Cottonmouth Creek

And rusty bed springs.



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Mysterious Wildcats

Source: Mysterious Wildcats by Joel Sartore

I’ve been watching Rare: Creatures of the Photo Ark on PBS the past two weeks. There’s one more episode next week. Joel Sartore, a National Geographic photographer, is on a mission to capture studio portraits of more than 12,000 species and to date has photographed about 6,000. It’s a project he calls the Photo Ark. He says his goal is simply “to get the public to care and save species from extinction.

So after tonight’s episode I checked my email and found a notification from Flow Art Station featuring Mysterious Wildcats by Joel Sartore. One of the cats featured is the Iberian Lynx, which he photographed on tonight’s episode. It’s the world’s most endangered feline. In 2002 there were fewer than 100 Iberian Lynx, but conservation efforts have increased those numbers considerably and successfully released cats into the wild on the Iberian Peninsula. That’s Spain and Portugal in case it’s been awhile since you had a geography class.


So while there’s nothing mysterious about my cat Domino, I hope you’ll check out Mysterious Wildcats by Joel Sartore. It’s absolutely worth a few minutes of your time.

My favorites are the lynxes, specifically the Iberian and Eurasian. How about you?  Do you have a favorite? Let me know in the comments below.


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The Show-Stopping Stargazer Lily

These Stargazer Lilies bloomed in June. All the lilies in the yard have now faded except the occasional stray daylily.

Stargazer Lily on Cottonmouth Creek

I think these Stargazers were an Easter gift to my mom many years ago. When the blooms faded the plant went into the ground and it has put on a nice show every spring since.

Stargazer Lily 1

It was planted behind the hostas and in front of a row of holly shrubs.

Stargazer Lily 2

But the hostas and the lilies are planted in each other’s spot. The hostas get too much sun and the lilies lean forward wanting more.

Stargazer Lily 3

The other day I trimmed the bottom branches of the holly and that’s where I’ll put the hostas when the weather cools off. Then I’ll move the lilies somewhere with full sun like I said a few days ago in my post Stunning Scarlet Lilies.

Stargazer Lily 4

Several articles mentioned the fragrance of these flowers, but I don’t remember them having a fragrance. I’ll make a point to check that out next year.

Stargazer Lily 5

There were a couple of warnings about these showy beauties.

First, while they make beautiful cut flowers, watch out for the pollen. Don’t get it on your hands or clothes because pollen will stain.

Stargazer Lily 7

The second warning is for your cats. The ASPCA reports the Stargazer is toxic to cats. It’s not a problem for dogs or horses or people, but can cause kidney failure in cats. There are a variety of other lilies that are toxic to cats and dogs that you might check out if your pets eat plants.

Stargazer Lily 8

I’ve had cats in the past who seemed to chomp on every leaf or blade of grass in sight. Fortunately, my Sundance cat is only interested in birds and not so much in my lilies.

Thanks for reading and checking out my photos. Let me know what you think.


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Teeny Tiny Starburst Blooms

This is a vine or a shrub or ground cover depending on how it’s trimmed and where you let it grow. Mid-summer, like right now, it’s covered with these starburst blooms. They’re about two or three inches in diameter and they’re made up of little bitty flowers.

Starburts Blooms 1

It starts with a cluster of little balls.

Starburst Blooms 2

And each one of those eventually bursts into a tiny flower.

Starburst Blooms 3

They’re not big and showy but they’re kind of interesting when you slow down to take a look.

Starbust Blooms 4

I thought I’d do a quick search for vine or shrub with starburst bloom and this would pop right up and I could tell you what it is.

Uh uh.

Seems like there are a lot of blooms described as starburst: lilies, lilacs, clematis, hydrangea, wisteria, daisy, honeysuckle… and lots more I recognize but can’t name. I’ll have to look again another day.

I’ve lived around this plant for years and this is the first time I noticed the blooms. I don’t know why it blooms at all since it spread like crazy through the root system.

Let me know if it looks familiar. And if anyone wants a cutting, we have plenty.




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