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.
The flowers attract lots of pollinators, including several varieties of bees.
We've had a bedstraw hawk-moth, aka galium sphinx, feeding for several days.
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!")
A black swallowtail put in an appearance.
We've got a good group of monarchs, I've counted 12 at the busiest time.
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.
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.
Stay tuned, I'll keep watching the thistle to see who else may show up.