It has not been a good year for butterflies in my backyard, a backyard that in previous years has teemed with the colorful insects. I blame the weather primarily for this absence. We've had relatively wet conditions throughout much of the year. Not that we've had heavy, torrential rains except on a couple of occasions but in most weeks we have had at least some rain. That may have made it difficult for some butterflies to reproduce. Even the butterflies that are normally ubiquitous in my yard have been scarce this year.
That includes beauties like the Gulf Fritillary, usually one of the most numerous of its kind here throughout the summer.
It also includes the little yellow butterflies called sulphurs, such as this Dogface Sulphur. In the past, they've been so omnipresent that we take them for granted and stop noticing. Until they aren't there.
Last year, throughout the year, I had a constant stream of Monarchs passing through and uncountable caterpillars on my milkweed plants like the one this female is enjoying. This year, until recently, I've seen very few Monarchs and none of their caterpillars.
And of the Monarch's cousin, the Queen, I don't recall seeing one all year.
In the last couple of weeks, the numbers have picked up a bit with fritillaries and sulphurs leading the way. I'm seeing quite a few swallowtails and skippers and more of the Monarchs now, so I have hopes that the year will end on a more positive note for butterflies.
Meantime, some other critters are having good years.
Dragonflies, for example. They seem to thrive on the weather we've had this year. Every time I step outdoors I encounter one or more.
And cicadas, of course. Nothing ever seems to slow them down. Their "songs" are the background music for a hot August afternoon.
But maybe the happiest of all critters this year have been the frogs, like this Southern Leopard Frog sitting on a lilypad in my goldfish pond. The frogs have expressed their happiness by reproducing. Prolifically!
These are just a few of the thousands of tadpoles currently inhabiting my little pond. I assume they are progeny of the leopard frogs, but there are other species of amphibians around the yard and some may be their offspring.
If you look a little closer, you may be able to see that some of these tadpoles have minuscule rear legs. They are on their way to becoming froglets. It takes several weeks from their hatching to actually becoming froglets able to live outside of the pond.
If all the tadpoles in my pond actually become frogs, my backyard is going to be knee deep in frogs!