Creating a wildlife haven one plant at a time

Friday, November 1, 2013

Beginnings of Autumn Color, Flutterbys and Critters in Camouflage

I am struck by the beauty of Autumn. I have been patiently waiting for the changing of the colors and finally the leaves have begun to sport their bright fall colors in our woods. Each day there is more and more bold color defining the landscape.


 On days when the sun shines the colors are much more striking and vibrant.


You can clearly see the chlorophyll breaking down in the leaves.


Many leaves have already fallen to the ground making a beautiful carpet in the garden. The Virginia creeper which is coming into its own as a wonderful ground cover is beginning to show its fall colors too.


The tropical fruit trees will need to be brought indoors soon but for now I am leaving them outside so the fruit can ripen. They survived the one frosty night when temperatures plummeted to 34 degrees (Fahrenheit) a week ago.


The fig tree is dropping its leaves but still bears some fruit that needs to mature. And then there is some fruit where the hornets beat me to the harvest. This is what happens when life gets too busy.


The persimmon tree didn't bear much fruit this year but a few are almost ready for picking.


With the shorter days and cooler weather there are fewer and fewer butterflies in our garden. Most of the migrating butterflies have already started on the journey south.


But there are certain butterflies that I am more apt to see in October and November. They are certainly around in spring and summer but like hiding out in the woods. Maybe because they wear the autumn colors my eye is more keen to spot them in late fall. They certainly don't sit still for long, that is why I refer to them flutterbys.


The Question Mark (can you see the mark on the center of the hindwing?) is one of the anglewing butterflies I typically see in the fall. They don't rely on blooms for food since they prefer tree sap, rotting fruit and other decaying organic matter as well as moisture from damp sand and soil. This beauty was pulling moisture from the sand in the seam of our driveway.


A closely related butterfly to the angelwings are the tortoiseshells, like this Mourning Clock, which briefly left the woodland garden for more open ground. Its velvety brown wings studded with royal blue and ochre trim are stunning if you can catch a glimpse of this butterfly with its wings open. Typically I see them perched on the side of a tree blending in well with the bark.

Other critters are camouflaging well with their fall surroundings too. This toad was hunkered down blending in with the browns of fallen leaves in the woodland garden.


And this eastern fence lizard has been enjoying the warm bricks of the house since we removed all the shrubbery.


A fallen leaf is nothing more than a Summer's wave goodbye.

I hope you too find the magic in the dawn of the cool, crisp mornings, the
the changing of the color guard, and the quietness of the landscape as it falls into its winter slumber.

16 comments:

  1. Lovely Fall colors. Like you I have been watching the changing colors by the day. The bees are pests with any wound on fruit. Your toad photo is a great one.
    Cher Sunray Gardens

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    1. Thanks Cher! The toad was so well camouflaged I didn't see him right away. Almost took a wrong step but fortunately I spotted him in time. :)

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  2. I always like those Southern lizards. You even have cuter toads too. Fall is different, but you still get nice colors. Your critters are more plentiful and varied, but we have you beat on squirrels I bet.

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    1. Ha! I bet you do...we have a few grey squirrels but when we visit my mother in Michigan we see more variety including black and red squirrels. I imagine you do too. We certainly have enough acorns to feed the masses. Hopefully, the squirrels are sharing with the deer and other critters.

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  3. I don't think I've seen a Question Mark or Mourning Cloak butterfly here yet (although we do have lots of butterflies), but I think I need to look more closely. They are gorgeous.

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    1. Do look out for them. I find they are more difficult to spot but I always see several Question Mark or Comma butterflies in the fall. I love their wing shape. The Mourning Cloak are much more random. I was thrilled to see this one out and about.

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  4. I've been taking leaf pictures, but had too many blooms to post them last week...

    Don't get many question marks or mourning cloaks... although... I am growing a hackberry tree for them... Ugly tree... but It's for the wildlife...

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    1. Hackberry is also host for the American Snout butterfly (I found one in late winter last year...super cool butterfly). I bet the birds will also thank you for providing them with lots of berries. I hope you find some butterflies that host on this tree...it will make it all worthwhile!

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  5. So nice to see the critters again as they are gone here. Although a couple of days after our first freeze, I heard peepers because we had temps in the mid 60s.

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    1. It must have been lovely to hear one last song before they slumber for the winter. Looks like we will all be cooling down some next week.

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  6. I love your photos! You have a good eye to spot the toad and the lizard! This truly is a magical time of year with all the colors and the special light that shines through them. I have a couple of different types of Asian persimmons. I think I can pick some of my Fuyu persimmons this week. It will be the first time my young tree has born fruit, so I am excited.

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  7. I am madly jealous of all your butterflies, not to mention your figs and persimmons! And the sumacs really can't be beat for fall color, can they?

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  8. Lovely autumn colours in your garden! And I loved the photos of the toad and the butterflies. Over here in London we haven’t had any night frost yet but by end of next week it might be cold enough to just dip below during the night. I hope the cold period won’t last long, both me and my garden likes it better when it stays well above freezing!

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  9. So lovely to see your fall colours as ours have past now. and beautiful colourful butterflies to top it off! You always seem to get great photos of butterflies. Mostly brown here now as we wait for the falling snow.

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  10. Just came over to see your Questionmark...and other butterflies you've had as visitors! I loved the Facebook exchange we had a couple of days ago! I really didn't know the difference between yours and mine and assumed mine was a Questionmark. Glad to have mine correctly ID'd as a Comma ;) In the future I'm just going to call them Anglewings when I don't know for sure!

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  11. Fall is almost done, from what I hear we are in for a hard winter (though I don't know where 'they' get their info). Our Anoles emerge from the stone wall on the front of the house as the day heats up. They are fun to watch.

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