Date: 7/13/20 7:40 am From: John Farmer <ajf-jlf...> Subject: RE: [birders] Fewer hummers and butterflies for anyone else? A bit OT...
I maintain 5 hummer feeders placed all around our house, some mostly in full sun, some nearly always in shade, and one just outside my study window at the edge of the field of view of my laptop where I'm typing this note. A female hummer (or two different females) has/have visited that feeder at least three times in the hour I've been on my computer this morning. Although I've not seen a male today, they too are around and I see them nearly every day.
Our lot backs up to the wooded flood plain of the Saline River, into which visiting RTHU females often disappear after having fed. My subjective judgment is that the frequency of visits to the feeder at my study window is very much in line with past years, and I believe I'm re-filling all of my feeders at the usual rate. My wife has several flower beds and reports that visits to coral bells and hostas seems to her to match past years.
Regarding butterflies, my subjective appraisal is that I am seeing less species diversity and fewer total individuals this summer than usual, but on Saturday we had a female monarch nectaring and laying eggs on Common Milkweed in one of the flower beds at the same time that two Red Admirals were visiting some Shasta-like Daisies, and a Hairstreak was nectaring on wild bergamot, all within five feet of one another. Yesterday a female Monarch spent fifteen minutes or more nectaring and laying eggs on a pair of Butterfly weeds near my vegetable garden, and a couple of minutes ago when I left my desk for a minute to see if I could find any of those eggs (I did), I saw another Monarch flying across our yard.
Every day I walk 3- to 5-mile loops on the rural roads in our neighborhood, and I record most of the wildlife I spot during those walks. I've attached my cryptic notes from yesterday that show an unusual menagerie with more identified species of butterfly (8) than bird (7), that number of bird species being a small fraction of the 20 or so that I would usually encounter in mid-July. For anyone interested, the butterflies were: (20) Clouded Sulfur, (3) Unidentified species [uidb], (5) Orange Sulfur, (8) Cabbage White, (3) Monarch, (1) Silver-spotted Skipper, (2) European skipper, (2) Black Swallowtail, and (1) Pearl Crescent.
I am extremely concerned with the scientific reports I'm seeing of a greatly diminished diversity and number of insects (and total biodiversity) worldwide. My own 20+/- years of anecdotal records would likely concur in their own minute way with more serious studies, although I have never found time to compile them in an easily manipulatable form.
1/2 mile from Washtenaw/Monroe County Line
From: Bruce <bet110...>
Sent: Saturday, July 11, 2020 5:56 PM
To: Lisa Lava-Kellar <lisalk...>
Cc: birders <birders...>
Subject: Re: [birders] Fewer hummers and butterflies for anyone else? A bit OT...
We have noticed less Hummer activity here in Okemos this year. It seems to have picked up quite a bit just the past few days. We have a hanging Fuchsia on the deck that has gotten attention, but most is to the hanging feeder.
There is also an elderberry Bush with lots of bloom this year but we are not seeing many bees pollinating as usual.
Butterfly weed in the perennial garden has not attracted any that I have seen, but I don’t have routine view of that.
On Jul 11, 2020, at 5:18 PM, Lisa Lava-Kellar <lisalk...> wrote:
I am observing a dearth of native butterflies and hummingbirds this year.
Not all of my plants are native, but many are. In the past (about 20 years or so), hummingbirds have flocked to the Monarda. This year, there are lots of solitary bees, but no hummers that I've observed. Same with the hummingbird feeders I have out (3) with sugar water. The only place I've seen a hummer is at the annual salvia ("Hot Lips") in the shade. The one in the sun has had zero--that I've seen, anyway. Should I move it to a shadier spot? The other five in front and back yards are native perennial salvias. No hummers have been at any of them. Same with the annual Nicotiana. Perhaps I just haven't been around when the hummers visit.
Also, in past years, black swallowtails, tiger swallowtails, monarchs and perhaps six other species of native butterflies have visited the plants in my yard. If anything, I've added to their menu this year. That said, I also added mulch. Could that be it? Could it be the True Green spray my neighbors on the corner used (whose yard does not intersect mine, really, except a bit in front) might be interfering?
I am so puzzled this year! Hope that you might have some thoughts. I welcome them.