Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Where are the Butterflies and Bees?

Northern Pearly Eye

We are continuing to experience unusual summer weather this year. July was cold and wet and while the temperatures have warmed up in the past few days, we have been drenched by frequent heavy rains. Our lawn is thick and green and needs cutting twice a week. The garden is butterfly and bird friendly with plenty of flowers, milkweed, parsley and water.

My August Garden

In normal year we do not need to cut our grass in July and August as the lawns generally burn out and become dormant. My garden is lush and the tomato plants are over a metre and a half tall. But I have very few tomatoes developing even though the plants have plenty of blooms. My grape tomatoes have not yielded a single ripe fruit this month. It seems this weather has discouraged or destroyed many of our pollinators. Butterflies, bees and other flying insects are scarce.

Lots of meadow flowers but few butterflies

We went for a walk in a natural area close to home last week. The meadows and ponds attract many butterflies and dragonflies and I took pictures of a variety of species here last year. In an hour we saw one Monarch butterfly, two Yellow Swallowtails, half a dozen Cabbage Whites and a few grasshoppers and dragonflies. We did not encounter a single mosquito. The Northern Pearly Eye in the first photograph is the only butterfly I have encountered at close range this year.

I did find an active wasp nest high in a tree along a trail. I destroyed one last year which was being built under our picnic table but no wasps have even approached my hummingbird feeder this season. I seen hummingbirds only twice this summer and have heard other people comment that they are not around much.

I have added a link below to an article on the CBC website about the unfortunate state of Monarch Butterflies this year. Hopefully they will make a comeback in the future.


  1. We have great weather here but i see at the news that the weather has gone crazy to other countries.

  2. Even over in our area I had hardly seen any bees or butterflies and we have had the opposite of you, winter was long but it transitioned straight into the heat of summer without warning. Tons of wasps though.

    I have had to resort to hand pollinating my pumpkins. (Luckily tomatoes and beans self-pollinated.) I have been wondering if there is not some other factors at hand contributing to the decline in pollinators. This winter I am building mason bee houses, so I guess we will have to see how next year goes.

  3. Everything sure looks green and lush. Wonder if it will be next year without the pollinators.

    There is no "normal" to weather and the earth is constantly changing. We too will have to change and adapt. Yet I hope not with the loss of butterflies and bees.

  4. Well, I'm not that far from you so I share your general weather. I, too, have been noticing the low numbers or even complete asence of many of the usuals. Apparently a friend in Kingsville did have some fireflies, but I never saw any here. We did finally get a few crickets chirping, but nothing like the full Greek chorus we normally have. No frogs, almost no fishflies, only a few cabbage whites, very few tiger s'tails and other summer butterflies. Will be interesting to see what the fall monarch migration that always funnels through Pelee.

  5. The rain in July broke the precipation record by a lot!

  6. The lack of butterflies and insects is sad.We have almost no butterflies,and few bees.Hopefully next year will be better.

  7. HI Ruth....you seem to be having the summer that we had last year. I did not have many bees or butterflies in 2008.

    This year has been average temperatures but dry and we have more than made up for the shortage last year.

    Climate change is happening I am sure. I believe the effects on wildlife will be huge over the next few decades.......

    Hope you manage to get the lawn cut......btw your garden looks lovely......

  8. I have seen lots of bumble bees in early-mid June. A few monarch butterflies here and there, but the sightings have been minimal. It certainly has been a strange summer. So do we be happy with green and lush lawns and blooming flowers or do we take the birds, butterflies and the bees. Wish we could have both.

  9. We are having a strange summer this year too. There seem to be fewer butterflies or bees in my neck of the woods as well.

    I also posted a pic of a hornet nest on my blog. I thought it was a wasp nest, but somebody advised me it was a hornet nest. After googling wasp & hornet, I found out people use the names interchangeably.

    Your lawn and gardens look lovely. I hope things change next year.

  10. Interesting. I wouldn't have noticed. Hopefully, it's a one year aberration.

  11. Your first butterfly photo is spectacular. I worry about the bees, and wonder if they'll make a comeback.

  12. My sister was just commenting yesterday that they'd seen only maybe one Monarch at her house this year. The bees and butterflies have been rather scarce this year, though we do have our supply of mosquitoes!

  13. Beautiful images! I have seen a Northern Pearly Eye for the first time this year. I also think that the butterflies are more scarce this year...however I did see 4 different Monarchs yesterday. It was quite a sight!

  14. Oh Ruth! Your blog has become so beautiful! Your posts are always so full of life and I love seeing the grass, the flowers and the animals!

  15. Hi Ruth,
    Same here! My tomato plants are huge and there are lots of tomatoes on the branches but not even a hint of orange on any of them.
    Same with the monarchs....I looked at 117 milkweed plants last night and found only 1 egg! I'm starting to see a few more butterflies, so maybe there's still hope. And there are plenty of bumble- and honeybees in the backyard.


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