Everyone Loves Thistle!

August 20, 2020  •  2 Comments

We leave a patch of our yard for wild plants to help our local wildlife. This year, we've got a good patch of thistle - either 'bull,' 'milk' or 'common,' depending upon who you ask. I've dubbed the patch 'The Island of Thistley.' My wife didn't approve either.

I started leaving the thistle to attract Atticus, our resident goldfinch, and his charm. The goldfinches love the seeds, and they've got lots of company.

Thistles are beautiful plants, even if they have some sticking points. They've got lots of pretty purple flowers. Bull thistle flowersBull thistle flowersBull thistle flowers, Clark Homestead, West Newbury, Vermont. (Possibly milk thistle)


The flowers attract lots of pollinators, including several varieties of bees.

Bee feeding on thistle flowerBee feeding on thistle flowerBee feeding on thistle flower, West Newbury, Vermont

 

 

Bees feeding on thistle flowerBees feeding on thistle flowerBees feeding on thistle flower, West Newbury, Vermont

We've had a bedstraw hawk-moth, aka galium sphinx, feeding for several days.

Bedstraw hawk-moth or galium sphinx, feeding on thistle flower,Bedstraw hawk-moth or galium sphinx, feeding on thistle flower,Bedstraw hawk-moth or galium sphinx, feeding on thistle flower, Clark Homestead, West Newbury, Vermont

 

Bedstraw hawk-moth or galium sphinx, feeding on thistle flowerBedstraw hawk-moth or galium sphinx, feeding on thistle flowerBedstraw hawk-moth or galium sphinx, feeding on thistle flower, Clark Homestead, West Newbury, Vermont

 

Bedstraw hawk-moth or galium sphinx, feeding on thistle flowerBedstraw hawk-moth or galium sphinx, feeding on thistle flowerBedstraw hawk-moth or galium sphinx, feeding on thistle flower Clark Homestead, West Newbury, Vermont
And, a kaleidoscope of monarch, swallowtail and a few other butterflies are steady visitors.

Here's a great spangled fritillary. ( I think 'great spangled fritillary' sounds like an exclaimation you'd hear in someplace like Idaho. "Great spangled fritillary, Uncle Fred won the lottery!")

Great spangled fritillary butterfllyGreat spangled fritillary butterfllyGreat spangled fritillary butterflly feeding on thistle, West Newbury, Vermont

Great spangled fritillary butterfllyGreat spangled fritillary butterfllyGreat spangled fritillary butterflly feeding on thistle, West Newbury, Vermont
A black swallowtail put in an appearance.

Eastern black swallowtail butterflyEastern black swallowtail butterflyEastern black swallowtail butterfly (Papilio polyxenes), West Newbury, Vermont

We've got a good group of monarchs, I've counted 12 at the busiest time.
 

Monarch butterfly on thistle flowerMonarch butterfly on thistle flowerMonarch butterfly on thistle flower, West Newbury, Vermont
Monarch butterfly on thistle flowerMonarch butterfly on thistle flowerMonarch butterfly on thistle flower, West Newbury, Vermont

Monarch butterfly on thistle flowerMonarch butterfly on thistle flowerMonarch butterfly on thistle flower, West Newbury, Vermont

Monarch butterfly on thistle flowerMonarch butterfly on thistle flowerMonarch butterfly on thistle flower, West Newbury, Vermont
The thistle is not far from our hummingbird feeder. The hummingbirds sometimes take a break from squabbling over the feeder to feed on the thistle. So far, I've seen only females feeding on the thistle, hope the males will get around to joining them.

Female ruby-throated hummingbird feeding on thistle flowersFemale ruby-throated hummingbird feeding on thistle flowersFemale ruby-throated hummingbird feeding on bull thistle flowers, West Newbury, Vermont

Female ruby-throated hummingbird feeding on thistle flowersFemale ruby-throated hummingbird feeding on thistle flowersFemale ruby-throated hummingbird feeding on bull thistle flowers, West Newbury, Vermont

Female ruby-throated hummingbird feeding on thistle flowersFemale ruby-throated hummingbird feeding on thistle flowersFemale ruby-throated hummingbird feeding on bull thistle flowers, West Newbury, Vermont

Female ruby-throated hummingbird feeding on thistle flowerFemale ruby-throated hummingbird feeding on thistle flowerFemale ruby-throated hummingbird feeding on thistle flower, West Newbury, Vermont

And even the goldfinches - the ones I left the thistle for - have started showing up. Only a few flowers have gone to seed, we should get more finches as the rest of the flowers pass.

American goldfinch on thistleAmerican goldfinch on thistleAmerican goldfinch on thistle, West Newbury, Vermont

American goldfinch on thistleAmerican goldfinch on thistleAmerican goldfinch on thistle, West Newbury, Vermont

 

American goldfinchAmerican goldfinchAmerican goldfinch

American goldfinchAmerican goldfinchAmerican goldfinch

Stay tuned, I'll keep watching the thistle to see who else may show up.


Comments

Rita Pitkin(non-registered)
Love this. I let the field around my house go "wild" every year, love the multitude of birds, etc. that are attracted to it all though pretty sure my neighbors think otherwise.
deenie Galipeau(non-registered)
What a thistley patch you have! Beautiful shots!
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