Archive for June, 2010

Think like a butterfly for a moment. What do you desire? Food, shelter, sun, water, a place to hang, perhaps these things come to mind. Spend some time simply observing butterflies and you can use this information in planning your butterfly garden.

On your private estate within the Sicily Island Hills, or elsewhere, you can provide for all these needs and step back to watch the magic unfold. The sight of all these flowers is delightful and the addition of butterflies to your environment is a wonderful treat.

The list of plants available to attract butterflies is large and includes common garden flowers as well as wildflowers native to this state. The various stages of the butterfly offer a multitude of opportunities to attract them.

The adult butterfly lays eggs resulting in the caterpillar which changes into the pupa which evolves into the adult. During the caterpillar stage they seek leafy plants. Later the caterpillar hangs as a chrysalis on a plant such as Butterfly Weed, before emerging as an adult butterfly in need of the nectar of this same plant. Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa) is associated with the Monarch Butterfly. Watching an adult emerge from its pupal case is really exciting, especially the first time one experiences it.

As a young caterpillar, the tender green leaves of plants such as dill, fennel or parsley is irresistable.

Adult butterflies on the other hand are looking for nectar producing flowers to satisfy their needs. What better plants to enjoy than Butterfly Bush (Buddleia davidii) and Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa and other spp.)?

Lantana pictured below, a ubiquitous flowering plant available in several colors, is a great nectar source that blooms from spring through fall.

 

Liatris the purple flowered garden cultivar and the native wildflower is a nice vertical accent as well as a great nectar plant. 

Considering that the caterpillar stage of butterflies can do considerable damage by chewing on the foliage of flowers and herbs of your garden one must decide how much of this natural behaviour is tolerable. Are you willing to use pesticides more judiciously or no pesticides in order to enjoy a garden of butterflies?

Butterflies like to partake of minerals in puddles of shallow water, so if you don’t have such a place available for them, incorporate it into your garden. Buy some sand and either by hand or with a irrigation system, keep that area moist.

The secret to a great butterfly garden is part research plus part trial and error. Think like a butterfly and you may enjoy a colorful garden along with a plethora of winged wonders. Enjoy!

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The Sicily Island Hills are a great place to relax during the hot, humid summer months. Shady forested streams and waterfalls create refreshing experiences. This gift of nature must be visited with a certain reverence. The steepness of the terrain, soft soil and loose rocks make for difficult footing. When it rains, hiking trails and rocky streams become slick and dangerous. During times of heavy rainfall the streams and trails of the Sicily Island Hills have the potential to be deadly.

I have hiked the Rock Falls trail to the waterfall and even down into the gorge below during a brief summer thunderstorm. The trail was treacherous and I had to hold onto tree saplings as I descended the hill. The waterfall normally eases over its rocky ledge and drops more or less straight down into a pool it has carved out of the sandstone base. But on that day the waterfall poured forth with extra gusto and advanced further forward than I had ever seen with much more volume.

Don’t imitate my error in judgement. While it was still raining heavily I was walking in the gorge in front of the waterfall. The stream in this location is usually ankle deep, however before long it rose halfway to my knees before I decided better of it and moved back up to the hiking trail. Just how deep the water became I will never know as I chose to seek the shelter of my car to dry off before the trip back to Monroe.

So what I am telling you is do not be caught on the streams or trails of Sicily Island Hills during heavy rain. Be aware of the weather conditions before your trip. Has it been raining at Sicily Island Hills for several days and is the soil saturated? Is it raining or are thunderstorms in the area or are there storms predicted? Check the weather online or NOAA Weather Radio. The unexpected can happen so always prepare and raise your awareness level. Have a plan and stick to it. Never visit the Sicily Island Hills alone. If you are severely injured having a fellow hiker with you could be crucial to your survival.

There are many wonderful experiences awaiting you amongst the forest of the Sicily Island Hills. Respect the inherent dangers and you will live to tell others about your adventure.

Always remember to have the proper license or permit in your possession when you are within the Sicily Island Hills Wildlife Management Area as a license or permit is required. The simplest way to be in compliance is to purchase a Wild Louisiana Stamp which as of this writing is $5.50. With the purchase of a Wild Louisiana Stamp you are allowed access to LDWF wildlife management areas all over Louisiana for an entire year, subject to the date of purchase. One payment of $5.50 seems like an extreme bargain when you consider all the outdoor experiences available for a year.