|Question Mark butterfly on pear - Clement Kent|
|click to see silver ? on the hindwing. Clement Kent|
Some pears had fallen and were rotting. The Question Mark butterfly (Polygonia interrogationis) was feeding on the yeasty fluids; at other times of the year this butterfly and its closely related cousin, the Comma (Polygonia comma) can be found drinking from sap flows on tree trunks.
Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynne Truss.
The title brings me to a question all pollinator gardeners should ask when they see a butterfly they like: does the caterpillar eat shoots and leaves? If so, what kinds?
Comma and Question Mark caterpillars eat leaves of hops, elms, stinging nettles, and the plant Canadians call wood-nettle and Americans call Canadian wood-nettle (Laportea canadensis).
Nettles are food plants for the beautiful Tortoiseshell and Red Admiral butterflies too. That's why I'm probably the only flower gardener I know crazy enough to deliberately plant stinging nettles in his garden. However, boiled nettle leaves do not sting and make a healthy tea or addition to stew, so perhaps there are some veggie/herb gardeners out their with nettle patches.
|photo abibrooks, rights reserved|
|photo KM&G Morris, rights reserved|
Butterflies are not the only fruit juice drinkers that are pollinators. Of course we have all seen wasps on rotting fruit, but I am not suggesting you encourage that in your pollinator garden!
|orioles and oranges. photo: thefixer|
So, if you want to attract pollinators with more than just flowers, add some fruit trees or bushes to your garden!
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