Nature Near me


I love all things Texas, including the native plants and wildlife.

Slowly I have removed the invasive plants from our yard and replaced them with Texas natives. It takes time to see the rewards of the change. But this fall the native plants are in bloom at just the right time for the migrating butterflies, birds, and moths to feed from as they pass through.

On a warm, breezy day in October I decided to document just a few of the things I saw feeding on the plants in the yard. Trying to catch a good photo of a butterfly is slow work, but worth the effort. It is easy to get lost in the vibrance of life while watching these tiny creatures flutter from one flower to the next, then be cast away by the breeze. Joining in the mix of butterflies are all sorts of moths, bees, dragonflies and other insects.

The native plants are the foundation for creating a space that attracts wildlife. They feed the insects, and the insects attract the birds, lizards, toads, and mammals. Different plants attract different insects. For example milkweed attracts monarch butterflies- the state insect. Monarchs have been in serious decline in part because of a drastic loss of milkweed along its migration routs as it follows the eternal summer from Mexico to Canada.

The scarlet salvia attracts the cloudless sulphur butterflies, although they enjoy other flowers too. Lantana attacks all sorts of pollinators as it blooms in late summer and fall. The hardy lantana is easy to maintain in yards and gardens of central Texas. The bees seem to prefer the Plateau Golden-eye that came up on its own in the very back part of the yard.

The well timed blooming of the native plants help fuel the migrating insects on their journey south. Habitat loss is something all species, other than humans, are feeling. Food can often be scares for these tiny travelers. Especially in times of drought. I invite you to find out more about what native plants will work best in your yard so you can aid them as they pass through.

I’m not a plant expert, but have found what works for the rocky soil of our yard through trial and error. A few plants I recommend for north Austin are: Scarlet Salvia, Mexican Bush Sage, Purple Sage, Turks Cap, Plateau Golden-eye, Lantana, Rock Rose.

Some of the flying and crawling things I observed on this day in October are:

Cloudless Sulphur Butterfly, Hummingbird Clearwing Moth, Clouded Skipper Butterfly, Gray Hairstreak Butterfly, Gulf Fritillary, Zebra Longwing, Eastern Giant Swallow Tail, Honey bee, two types of lizards and some dragonflies that I don’t know the names of.

One of the other fun thing that has occurred since we don’t put herbicides or pesticides on our lawn is that the Fireflies of have come back in droves. It makes me happy to see them twinkling a dusk from May to September.

All photos were take in my yard in October. I think I was most excited about seeing the Hummingbird Clearwing Moth. It looks like a bumble bee, but is closer in size to a hummingbird, but has clear wings like a dragonfly. Very cool species.

I help biologist understand what is in the area by using iNaturalist, eBird and Texas Nature Trackers.