Thursday, September 20, 2018

And Just Like That - It's Fall!!!

Well, not fall officially yet, but soon to come by way of the calendar in a few days.

The days are still pretty warm here in the northeast! We've had several days in the 80's, but it's gradually cooling off. It made it down in the 50's last night and in the mid 60's today. It's been very dry around here as well. We never did get any rain from Hurricane Florence that went through the Carolinas last week and they continue to receive damage from the rising rivers. Our prayers go out to those families and businesses that have been ravaged by the devastating rains and floods.

The leaves on the trees have a hint of fall colors in them, but most of the leaves appear to be drying up, turning brown or a very dull yellow. They look very crisp and I'm not sure whether or not there will be much colorful fall foliage to speak of.

The crickets singing in the fields have replaced the songbirds who have left for their wintering grounds in the south. I hope they didn't get blown off of their flight pattern by the hurricane. We're still seeing some Monarch butterflies, and it's also been reported that there are still Monarch caterpillars in the area so that's a wonderful sign. We have seen several Monarch butterflies this year and their large numbers have been reported in other areas as well. That's great news!

The countryside is now starting to smell with the scent of the tag alders' dying leaves. After a heavy frost they can get really stinky (to me, anyway). Once in awhile you might smell the fragrant flowers of wild Joe Pye-weed. This is a very beneficial plant to bees and butterflies. I purchased some of the miniature Joe Pye-weed once, and planted them, but we have so many wild ones around here in the fields that I didn't bother to fuss with them and they died out. I really think they needed more sun than where I planted them and sun is at a premium in our yard in Mexico, New York.

We haven't had a frost yet. That's a good thing. During one night we got down in the 40's, but so far so good. I'm not sure I'm ready for that. After a heavy frost around here the fields turn brown and that's it for the wild flowers.

I was rewarded (???) this year for seeing some unusual moths and bugs. First time seeing some of them and I had no clue what they were so I "Googled" them and looked under the "images" and was able to identify the Beautiful Wood Nymph Moth (which I don't know where they came up with that name. It was actually pretty creepy looking to me) and the Azalea Sphinx Moth, however, I'm not sure that that is a positive identification on that moth. I'm not a bug expert (as a matter of fact I was never that interested in them), but these guys showed up this year and thought I'd share them with you. Another moth that Ted spotted when he opened our shed door was the Celery Looper Moth. I got help identifying this moth from one of the photography groups that I'm in on Facebook. I spent quite a bit of time trying to identify that one.

The Beautiful Wood Nymph Moth was spotted on the frame of our back door. I had no idea what it was. It didn't even look like a bug or moth to me. It actually looked like some burnt marshmallows from a campfire but we did not have any recent campfires or marshmallows (I can't keep marshmallows in the house because our grandchildren love them). So after I did a search on the internet I was able to identify it. I was looking for a link to post here for you for additional information but there doesn't seem to be much other than pictures, but I did find this quote on Wikipedia rather amusing about the Beautiful Wood Nymph Moth: "Adult is visually comparable to bird droppings, presumably beneficial for camouflage". Sounds about right to me!

Beautiful Wood Nymph

The Azalea Sphinx Moth looked like a dead leaf to me. I was out watering our window boxes and I was picking off some dead leaves when the leaf I was going to pick off wasn't a leaf, but a moth. Nature is so unique in disguising insects and animals to keep predators from harming them. Azalea Sphinx Moth

Azalea Sphinx Moth

In this photo it shows where I thought the moth was part of a
dead leaf and I was going to break it off.
And the Celery Looper Moth was just as weird looking as the Beautiful Sphinx Moth. It looked like it had a cape around its neck (it is hard to distinguish in the photo). I've never seen colors in an array like that on a moth. Very unusual to me. Celery Looper Moth

Ted found this guy hanging on one of our beach umbrellas
in the shed. Celery Looper Moth

And another bug that I saw that caught my eye because I thought it was a leaf blowing around, but leaves don't blow up into flowers, was a Katydid. It looks so much like a leaf that if I didn't see it land on this perennial I wouldn't have been able to find it. Katydid

Katydid. This guy is pretty well camouflaged, too. Nature is so amazing!

Another moth that we've seen before is the Hummingbird Moth (also called the Clearwing Moth). We've been seeing these moths for quite a few years now. It actually flutters around like a Hummingbird and isn't much smaller than one, but it's definitely a moth. Ted got a great picture (below) of this moth.  Hummingbird Moth (Clearwing Moth)

Hummingbird Moth (Clearwing Moth)

Well, hope you are not too freaked out with some of the photos, but just thought I'd share some interesting things that were spotted in our yard this season! Happy Fall, Ya'll!

Jump, and you will find out how to unfold your wings as you fall.
~Ray Bradbury

Drop me a line in the comments if you'd like! 


  1. Great pictures and expelnation of what they are.

    1. Thank you! It was fun to do online research on them.

  2. Great blog, Aunt Sue! Love the photos of the moths, especially the Clearwing Moth. Mother nature certainly is amazing!

    I do miss the summer birds. Our backyard is pretty quiet these days. Although, we do have hummingbirds, still. Hopefully, they are just passing through.

    It was amazing seeing so many monarchs in flight the last week or two. This was the first for our area. They must have taken a different route to avoid hurricane Florence. Amazing how they know how to do that.


    1. Thanks so much, Darcy. It really was a surprise to see those different moths around here this year. I don't know that much about them, but I found it very interesting to read up on them online and try to identify them.

      You should see more birds around your feeder once the weather gets colder. Right now a lot of the birds are getting weed seeds from the fields so when they are gone and there is snow on the ground the birds will come looking for some seeds. I haven't seen any hummingbirds around here in the last week or so, but yet the nectar is going down in our hummingbird feeder and I'm wondering if the bees are drinking it.

      That's wonderful that you are seeing several monarchs in your area. About this time last year, we had several hundred Painted Ladies butterflies in our yard. It was an awesome sight to see. I've never seen that many at one time.

      Yes, nature never ceases to amaze me!!!

      Love you, too!!! Aunt Sue

  3. One of your best Sue! Keep up the great work! I typed up a longer reply ...not sure why it didn't get published odd hmm

    1. Thank you!!! I really appreciate it and so glad you liked it. I really don't know that much about moths, but I found it very interesting. And some of them are so very hard to tell apart.

      Sorry your original reply didn't get posted. I sometimes have the same problem. Thanks for commenting.

  4. As usual, great, informative article with accompanying pics! I have a girlfriend here in the Finger Lakes who recently retired from the NYS Experimental Station in Geneva. She worked her whole career with bugs of all kinds. Her house is decorated spectacularly with framed specimens of all different bugs. I especially love her dragonfly collection--never knew there were so many, some of which are HUGE. We have had quite a few monarchs attracted to a fall flowering clematis--not sure of the name, but have enjoyed seeing them since they have not appeared in my gardens in years. I also discovered that my rue plants were hosts to two different species of Giant Swallowtails this year. Never see the darned butterflies, but they must be around or I wouldn't have the caterpillars. Maybe someday. Thanks again, Sue, for the bright spot in the crap going on today.

    1. Thank you, Susie! I really don't know that much about bugs but there's so much information readily available to us now with the internet that it's almost overwhelming. I didn't know there was that many different dragonflies either.

      Your girlfriend that worked for the NYS Experimental Station must be a wealth of information. That's fantastic! I can't imaging how stunning her home must be.

      The last few years we have not had many monarchs either, but this year there have been several of them. I'm actually surprised that we're still seeing them. I tried growing rue before but I didn't have any luck with it. That's good news that you've had Giant Swallowtails making good use of it. I remember several years ago, after planting dill for making pickles, that we had several caterpillars show up on it and I'm pretty sure they were the Giant Swallowtail caterpillars. I'm thinking I might grow some dill next year just for the caterpillars.

      Thanks again for commenting. It was good to hear from you!

  5. Hi Sue,
    I always enjoy your blogs. I've had hummingbird moths in my garden. They are fun to watch. Great photos as always.

    1. Hi Gene,
      Thank you, and glad you enjoy the blogs. It's very educational for me as well because I can spend several hours researching the information on the insects/plants and other items I choose to write about.

      There are different varieties of hummingbird moths as well which I found out, too, and not sure whether or not you have the same variety of the hummingbird moth/Clearwing moth as we do seeing as you live out west. They are fun to watch and it's amazing that they resemble the hummingbird so much in their flight patterns and movements. It's pretty tricky trying to get a good photo of them!

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