Hey fellas, the next thing’s a trellis

Story and photo by Jay  D. Carter

We indeed are expanding our butterfly garden. My wife hit it full-bore and we have six butterfly habitats from which my dear has raised and released no fewer than 78 fully developed butterflies! Hopefully the hatching of dozens of chrysalises in my house will be worth it. I would really prefer the butterflies to stay in our yard.

When my wife brings home another milkweed plant (Asclepias spp.), the favorite food of monarch caterpillars, she puts them in a habitat. After feasting on the plant, chubby caterpillars hang from the roof of the habitat for about eight days after spinning a green chrysalis. The chrysalis then turns black and then, finally, a butterfly emerges. My wife says that they have “hatched.” She then gives them 24 hours in the habitat to dry their new wings before she releases them. The butterfly garden has been a great addition to our perpetually green back yard. It’s a lot of fun and makes us feel like we are doing great things for Mother Nature.

So now on to the next phase of our yard plan – trellises. At the base are Mandevilla, Kalanchoe, Zinnia, and Petunia. We are attempting to add visiting bees to our repertoire. I guess I should be glad I have such a strong resistance to insect venom.

Other than sweet-smelling blossoms, I figured that bees would be attracted by another giant bumblebee. In fact, my wife’s favorite nickname for me is “Honey.” Since I have such a strong immunity to bee venom, I figured I have nothing to lose. I hope that potential customers are not put off by a 200-pound bee. I probably would have worn a butterfly suit to keep our latest additions in the yard if had one. I guess I should be glad that bears are not pollinators.

We love trellises because you can decorate them with any beautiful flowering plant you want … as long as they are Florida friendly. The Dutchman’s pipe vine (Aristolochia macrophylla) now covers one side of our arch. This vine hosts swallowtail butterflies.

Of course I could have built a trellis myself, but every time I get tools out, I hurt myself. I end up bleeding like a stuck pig and saying words no one should hear!

So what should our next project be? We now feed birds, bees, caterpillars, squirrels, and anything else that wanders into the yard. We need to keep it strictly Florida. How about alligators? That would require looking in Amazon for an alligator habitat.

And what about the latest member of South Florida’s fauna – the Burmese python? Now, I’m sure that there is nothing like a python habitat since the state just wants them to disappear. (So does my wife.) But not a day goes by that I do not look in the yard for any aberrant alligators or pythons. After all, we live only a block or so from Lake Wellington. What a story that would be!!

How fabulous! We have a plethora of birds, butterflies, caterpillars, lizards, and maybe even pythons! Maybe we should sell tickets and start giving tours of our backyard.

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