It’s that sunflower time of year again. To my eye, everything about sunflowers exudes happiness — even this sleepy sunflower struggling to open fully.
A painted lady butterfly (Vanessa cardui) browsing on wild spike verbena in the high Sandia mountains.
One of my all-time favorite views (I probably post a photo of this area every single summer), this time with late-blooming irises. Seems like everything bloomed pretty late this year.
It would be so easy to miss this little wild orchid — it’s only about 4-5 inches high, at the most, and it nods down toward the ground. I definitely don’t see it every year but when I do, it’s always very high in the Sandias. It’s super-hard to get a good shot of it because it’s so close to the ground; let me just say that I really feel my age every time I try. The pain is well worth it though — it’s such a happy little flower!
You may (or may not) have noticed that I didn’t post any photos of Sandia hairstreaks this spring. Usually I see them in March and the beginning of April — and that’s it. This spring I saw exactly one Sandia hairstreak, despite the fact that I looked all over for them.
I have seen them in June on a couple of occasions, most notably the very first year I ever saw them (in 2005) but that’s the exception rather than the rule. So imagine my absolute delight (not to mention relief) when I saw two sipping from Apache plume flowers this morning (I had seen a third about a half hour earlier, on beargrass).
Honestly, I was worrying that they were going extinct. I know that’s extreme, but I saw very few last year and only the one this spring. My worry is greatly alleviated now that I’ve seen these little guys. As I understand it, they must be part of the recently metamorphosed new brood that will overwinter until next spring. That they were on Apache plume, one of my very favorite flowers and oh-so-hard to get a good shot of, was icing on the cake.