Know your native pollinators: Gulf fritillary

The Gulf fritillary is sometimes known as the Passion butterfly — so named because of its ardor for Passionflower. You will find so much to love about this unique pollinator!

Gulf fritillaries are medium-sized butterflies with elongated forewings that live in the extreme southern United States. Outside of the U.S., they are a broad-ranging species, found throughout Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean and into South America.Gulf fritillaries enjoy a variety of habitat including sunny roadsides, disturbed areas, edges, fields, pastures, woodlands, second-growth semitropical forests and urban areas like parks and yards. You may even find them blithely floating around your butterfly garden.

 

Rudbeckia mollis

Flower Friday: Softhair coneflower

Softhair coneflower is a robust plant with bright yellow blooms that provide late spring and summer color to sandhills, dry open hammocks and roadsides in North and Central Florida. Butterflies and Halictid bees nectar on the flowers, while small birds enjoy eating the seeds. Use it in a mixed wildflower planting or in the back of a planting where its height can be appreciated. It is drought tolerant and requires little to no maintenance once established. It does not tolerate prolonged shade. Although the plant typically perishes after it blooms, it is a prolific self-seeder and can produce many seedlings.

Tachinid fly by Jonnie Dietz

Know your native pollinators: Tachinid flies

With over 1,300 species in North America alone, Tachinid flies are an extremely diverse group, yet they are often overlooked. Once you spot one, however, you’re likely to start recognizing them everywhere. Keep your eyes peeled on both flowers and foliage for these hairy pollinators. Tachinid fly larvae are known parasitoids of many nuisance bugs. How they enter their hosts varies, but once inside, all tachinid larvae begin to consume their host internally. This may sound like a Halloween horror story, but Tachinid larvae are great at keeping garden pests in check.

Snow squarestem (Melanthera nivea) by Eleanor Dietrich

Flower Friday: Snow squarestem

Snow squarestem (Melanthera nivea) is a robust bushy wildflower that occurs naturally in dry to moist flatwoods, prairies and disturbed open habitats. It typically blooms summer through early winter, but can bloom year-round, attracting bees, butterflies and other pollinators. It’s also known as Cat’s tongue, Salt and pepper and Nonpareil.

lygodesmia_alphylla

Flower Friday: Rose-rush

Rose-rush is a striking perennial wildflower that occurs naturally in sandy flatwoods, scrub, sandhills and pine barrens throughout most of Florida. It is near-endemic, occurring outside of Florida in only a few Georgia counties. It blooms spring through summer; in South Florida, it may bloom into fall. Like other asters, it attracts a variety of pollinators.

Honeybee on Beggar's tick (Bidens alba) by Bob Peterson (CC BY 2.0)

Flower Friday: Beggar’s tick

No matter what you call it — beggar’s tick, Spanish needle, monkey’s lice — Bidens alba is likely the most underappreciated of all Florida’s native wildflower. It is often considered a weed because it reproduces so prolifically, but it is a great native wildflower for attracting pollinators. In Florida, it is the third most common source of nectar for honey production. Its young leaves and flowers are edible.

Frostweed (Verbesina virginica) by Mary Keim

Flower Friday: Frostweed

Frostweed is a robust, herbaceous perennial wildflower that bears clusters of white flowers with noticeably contrasting purplish-black anthers. It typically flowers late summer through fall along moist forest and hammock edges throughout the state. It is attractive to many bees, butterflies and other pollinators.