Monday, July 15, 2013

Butterfly Habitat


There is an area in our front yard that has been - well, challenging.

We originally planted a small cactus there, but it was soon overrun by weeds and flowers that re-seeded from other areas of our yard.

In spite of constant weeding and tweaking the drip irrigation, the cactus just wasn't happy there, and the weeds were winning.

It's hard to even see the cactus in this picture (Clue: center bottom).

I decided to take advantage of the cloudy skies and relatively cooler temperatures (low 100's) we were having with the monsoon weather, to work in the yard and see what could be done to clean things up there.

One of the volunteer plants growing in the clump is Salt Heliotrope. It had been growing there for a while and had spread into some nearby areas of our yard. I had previously been pulling it as a weed until I noticed that butterflies really seemed to like it. So I decided to change my thinking, listen to Mother Nature and give it a chance.

Salt Heliotrope - Heliotropium curassavicum

Salt Heliotrope is native to the western and southern U.S. and up onto the Great Plains. It has also naturalized in some parts of the northeast. The plant has long stems that grow low to the ground. The white flowers are small and simple, but actually rather pretty - bell shaped with a yellow or purple center. The fleshy leaves and stems are a greyish-green color. Salt Heliotrope can grow well in salty and alkali soils, as well as wetland areas.

While I was working, I came across a number of Praying Mantises.

This one watched me intently.

I apologized for disturbing his neighborhood.

He ended up relocating to the nearby agave.

It took awhile to untangle the long stems. After some selective weeding we were left with some scraggly looking stems of Salt Heliotrope.

And a forlorn-looking little cactus.  ------->>>

I rebuilt the irrigation ring, adjusted the drip head and called it a day.

The next morning I went out to check on the plants, and there were 2 Queen Butterflies flitting between the patch I had weeded and another clump of Salt Heliotrope nearby.

I grabbed the camera, and was able to get some nice shots.

It really didn't take much effort to create a new bit of wildlife habitat.
Our yard has been changed for the better.
The results were quick.
And it didn't cost a thing.

Thank you, Mother Nature. :-)

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