|milkweed flower pickles
We'll try them out tonight with our Canada Day dinner. I used the usual pickling vinegar, plus a spoonful of wildflower honey and some herbs from the garden. In another two weeks I should be able to harvest the young pods and pickle them too - as long as they are under 1.5 inches or about 3 cms long.
|Buttefly milkweed early flowers and buds, High Park PG
|Butterfly milkweed in full bloom
|"swamp" milkweed - a deeper pink plant
|look hard to find honey bee and milkweed bug on this flower cluster
Now normally, my butterfly or "swamp" milkweeds would be crowded with pollinators. But, the unusual weather this year has turned common milkweed Asclepias syriaca into a star. So many plants are blooming that a lush, heavily sweet fragrance hangs over the whole country garden in spite of the cool breeze from Lake Huron.
There are native bees,
honey bees and copper butterflies,
fritillaries and coppers (one large fritillary is so fast I have no picture but it chases any orange butterfly, whether a tiny copper or a big monarch, trying to force them out its milkweed patch!),
hummingbirds (same story - too fast, no pic) and ants and wasps and...
"Fly?" you say - "surely that's a wasp?" At a half a forefinger's length and jet black viewed from above, I thought the same thing at first - until I saw the over-chubby abdomen and the fly-like eyes and antennae. In fact, it's a Mydas fly - probably Mydas clavata, the Orange-Banded Mydas fly.
Huge for a fly, these creatures look quite threatening but in fact can't sting. The one I saw visited many common milkweed flowers and drank repeatedly. Some references state that the adult fly catches other insects to eat but I saw no sign of this - just an apparently insatiable thrist for milkweed nectar.
|Orange Banded Mydas fly Mydas clavata drinking milkweed nectar