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Abelia

1999 Abelia

This glossy Abelia, Abelia Grandiflora, is centered under the front porch, and does an excellent job of hiding the porch foundation.  In mid-summer, it comes alight with thousands of small white trumpet-shaped flowers, with a peculiar, though not unpleasant fragrance.  It attracts bumblebees by the hundreds!  A close-up of the flowers is shown below.

1999 Abelia

The abelia is also very attractive to some butterflies; quite often, a half-dozen or more of tiger swallowtails are fluttering around the blossoms.

1999 abelia with butterfly

In the middle of October, 2000, the abelia has been in bloom for at least four weeks and is still going strong.

2000 abelia

It's July of 2003 and the abelia is in full bloom, much to the delight of the butterflies.

2003 abelia

Here we are in late august; the abelia is still in bloom, perfuming the garden with its honey scent, and attracting lots and lots of tiger swallowtail butterflies.

2003 abelia

2003 abelia

It's August 2004 and the Abelia is in full bloom, scenting the garden air and attracting hordes of bumblebees and tiger swallowtail butterflies.

2004 abelia

One of the nice things about the abelia is that it stays in bloom for a long time.  It's now more than a month later and it's still going strong!  Everyone who visits immediately notices the fragrance.

2004 abelia

After giving the abelia a severe pruning in the spring of 2006, it's grown back nicely and now, in mid-July, it's in bloom.

2006 abelia

2006 abelia

2006 abelia

It's now late July and the abelia is still in full bloom and is attracting many tiger swallowtail butterflies.

2006 Tiger Swallowtail on Abelia

2006 Tiger Swallowtail on Abelia

2006 Tiger Swallowtail on Abelia

2006 Tiger Swallowtail on Abelia

Here, one is poised upside-down with its proboscis inserted deep into the flower.

2006 Tiger Swallowtail on Abelia

Here's a good shot of the underside.

2006 Tiger Swallowtail on Abelia

2006 Tiger Swallowtail on Abelia

2006 Abelia

2006 Abelia

It's Sunday, the 20th of August.  During a stroll through the garden, I noticed something fluttering around the abelia that wasn't a tiger swallowtail.  I ran for the camera and was in time to get a few pictures of a small brown butterfly.  While it wouldn't open its wings for me, from these photos I was able to identify it as a silver spotted skipper, a butterfly that I haven't seen very often in my many years in New Jersey.

2006 Silver Spotted Skipper on Abelia

2006 Silver Spotted Skipper on Abelia

The abelia also attracts many other insects.  The bumblebees are a laugh -- they bumble around the bush and it's funny watching them trying to get their large heads as deep as possible into the flowers.

2006 Bumblebee on Abelia

While shooting the photos above, I noticed a tiger swallowtail in the abelia, but this one was different, still and lifeless.  As I reached in for it, I encountered a spider web and, indeed, the swallowtail was wrapped with webbing.  Here's the poor thing as I found it:

2006 Alas Poor Swallowtail! on Abelia

And here, judging by the location of the web and its occupant, as well as the occupant's disposition, is the culprit.  WARNING:  if you have arachnophobia, do NOT scroll any further down this page!

2006 Spider on Abeila

Later on in the afternoon, I was outside again, camera in hand, when two more visitors came to the abelia.  The first looks to be another type of skipper butterfly, though which type I don't know.

2006 Butterfly on Abelia

The other isn't a butterfly, but rather a moth.  A very peculiar moth that thinks it's a hummingbird!  It hovers in the air, it's rapidly beating wings making a humming sound, and you could mistake it for a small hummingbird if it wasn't for the antennae!  As it happens, it's a hummingbird moth, though since I was unable to freeze the wings in motion (even at a shutter speed of 1/125th second), I can't really say which one it is (if I had to guess, I'd guess the clearwing variety).  Here are a few photos of this very unusual visitor to the abelia.

2006 Moth on Abelia

2006 Moth on Abelia

2006 Moth on Abelia

2006 Moth on Abelia

2006 Moth on Abelia

2006 Moth on Abelia

Using a shutter speed of 1/350th second, I was able to freeze the motion of the wings.  Here are a few shots.  Its clearly a clearwing hummingbird moth.

2006 Moth on Abelia

2006 Moth on Abelia

Back to the tiger swallowtails ... occasionally, you see a dark-form female.  Quite often, you'd be tempted to confuse it with a black swallowtail, but it's pretty easy to distinguish them from the underside of the wing.  Here's a dark-form female, both from the top and from the underside.  This poor butterfly has been through the wars -- wings worn and tattered -- but it's a good example of this variety nonetheless.

2006 Butterfly on Abelia

2006 Butterfly on Abelia

The beginning of July 2007 bring the start of the Abelia's bloom.

2007 abelia

2007 abelia

As always, the abelia attracts beautiful winged visitors.  First the underside ...

2007 abelia with butterfly

... and then the upperside of a beautiful tiger swallowtail butterfly.

2007 abelia with butterfly

It's the July 4th weekend 2011 and the abelia is in bloom, scenting the front porch with its honey aroma and attracting scads of bumblebees.

2011 abelia

Here's a silver spotted skipper butterfly that was drawn to the abelia.

2011 abelia with silver spotted skipper

I was able to catch a clearwing hummingbird moth visiting the abelia as well.

2011 abelia with clearwing hummingbird moth

2011 abelia with clearwing hummingbird moth



Last Updated: 08 Jan 2015

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