Eastern-Tailed Blue Butterfly

Scientific Name: Cupido comyntas

Family: Lycaenidae

Native Range: United States and southern Canada, Pennsylvania*

Size: Wingspan: 23-28 mm (0.91 – 1.14 in)*

Active: Spring – fall. Two or more generations per year. Larva overwinters.*

Color and Appearance: “Adult: male’s wings above iridescent pale blue with brownish-gray along outer margin; forewings with a short oblique black bar near middle; hindwings with a row of submarginal black spots and a small orange spot at the base of each projecting tail. Female’s wings larger with longer tails, gray above on body and wings, 2 or 3 small orange spots with black dots near margin of hindwings. Wings of both sexes below silvery gray with small dark spots and a few orange spots near margin of hindwings.” *

*From (


Cutworms and Dart Moths

Family: Noctuidae

Native Range: Worldwide, several varieties in Pennsylvania


Active: Adults and larva both overwinter in soil or leaf litter.

Color and Appearance: Grays and browns

Cutworms gain their name from the feeding habits of the caterpillars. The caterpillars come out at night and bite through the stem of young plants, cutting them down and eating some of what falls. Some species are considered to be major agricultural pests. The adults pupate into moths which become pollinators.


Hummingbird, Ruby-Throated

Scientific Name: Archilochus colubris

Family: Trochilidae

Native Range: Summer Range: North America, Pennsylvania; Winter Range:

Size: Length:  7 to 9 cm (2.8 to 3.5 in) long; Wingspan: 8 to 11 cm (3.1 to 4.3 in)

Active: Spring – fall*

Field Markings: “Metallic green above; Adult male has brilliant red gorget, black chin, whitish underparts, dusky green sides; Female lacks gorget, has whitish throat and underparts, and a buffy wash on sides.” (Alderfer p. 118-119)


Pugnacious Leaf-Cutter Bee

Scientific Name: Megachile pugnata

Family: Megachilidae

Native Range: Eastern North America, Pennsylvania


Nest: Solitary, leaf cutter*

Nesting Location: Pre-made tunnels or holes (Wilson and Carril, p. 184 – 188)

Nest Materials: Pieces of leaves stuck together with saliva (Wilson and Carril, p. 184 – 188)

Active: Summer

Color and Appearance: Black with whitish hairs

Pollen Collection: Hairs under abdomen (Wilson and Carril, p. 184 – 188)

Flight Distance: *

Bees in the genus Megachile (meaning “big lipped”) snip pieces of leaves to line their nests, giving them a common name of “leaf cutter” bees. Construction of each nest cell can take anywhere from 1.5 – 3 hours for Megachile sp. bees. (Wilson and Carril, p. 184 – 188)

*From Heather Holm, Pollinators of Native Plants: Attract, Observe and Identify Pollinators and Beneficial Insects with Native Plants. Minetonka: Pollination Press, LLC, 2014., p. 267.


European Wool Carder Bee

Scientific Name: Anthidium manicatum

Family: Megachilidae

Native Range: Europe, Asia, Africa, introduced to North America in mid-twentieth century

Size: Medium with unusually strong sexual dimorphism. Females: 11 -13 mm (0.43 – 0.51 in); Males: 14 – 17 (0.55 – 0.67 in)*

Nest: Solitary, cavity*

Nesting Location and Materials: Preexisting cavities lined with tricomes (“wool”) from plant leaves.*

Active: Summer, (Wilson and Carrill, p. 176-178.)

Color and Appearance: Black with golden hairs

Pollen Collection: Hairs on face (Wilson and Carrill, p. 176-178.)

Flight Distance:

European wool carder bees are native to Europe, Asia and North Africa. They were first observed near Ithica, NY in the 1960s and have since spread across north America. While native Anthidium sp. are active in the spring, only the introduced Anthidium manicatum is active in late summer.

Unlike most bees, the males are significantly larger than the females. Their eggs are laid at the back of the nesting tunnel, meaning that the smaller females hatch first. Large males defend flower patches and wait to mate with passing females.

Female wool carder bees collect the fuzz from plant leaves and use it to line their nesting areas and create dividers between their brood cells. (Wilson and Carrill, p. 176-178.)

*From Wikipedia (

August 12, 2020: I have observed a lone wool carder bee flying loops around the anise hyssop patch. I presume that this is our resident male, defending his patch from interlopers and looking for mates. Although Wikipedia says that males will defend their patch against even humans, he seems to ignore me. I appreciate that.


Hairy-Banded Mining Bee

Scientific Name: Andrena hirticincta

Family: Andrenidae

Native Range:

Size: Small – Medium, 0.3 – 0.6 in (7 – 15 mm)*

Nest: Ground (sand, sandy loam, silt loam, sometimes lawns)*

Active: Spring – early summer, fall*

Color and Appearance: Moderately hairy, bands of yellowish hair on abdomen; facial depressions between compound eyes*

Pollen Collection: Scopae upper hind legs*

Flight Distance: ~ 500 yards, 450 m*

*From Heather Holm, Pollinators of Native Plants: Attract, Observe and Identify Pollinators and Beneficial Insects with Native Plants. Minetonka: Pollination Press, LLC, 2014., p. 258.



Scientific Name: Vitis sp.

Family: Vitaceae

Height: 15 – 20 ft.

Spread: 8- 15 ft.

Bloom Time: May – June

Native Range: Orchard Hybrid

Ecological Value: Nectar plant. Berries for birds.

Human Value: Green grapes are edible, but reputed to have a thick skin. Varieties like this one were more likely used for making jams and wines than for snacking. Leaves are also edible.

August 5, 2020: In the spring of 2020, Johanna allowed me to transplant three of her green grape vines from the fence beside her drive way. Today they are growing on the south and east side of Ian’s club house. The eastern vine, which had the oldest root system has produced a bunch of grapes this year. I look forward to tasting them in the fall.


Elderberry, American

Scientific Name: Sambucus canadensis

Family: Adoxaceae

Height: 5 – 12 ft.

Spread: 5 – 12 ft.

Bloom Time: June

Native Range: North, Central, and northern South America, Pennsylvania

Ecological Value: Nectar source, berries for birds

Human Value: Berries may be used for jams, baking, and wine making.

August 5, 2020: In the spring of 2019, I planted two elderberries on the espalier along our south side walk. I planted a third in the hedge along the northern property line near the Sweet Birch. All three have grown heartily and I look forward to our first fruit crop this fall.


Chokeberry, Black

Scientific Name: Aronia melanocarpa

Family: Rosaceae

Height: 3 – 6 ft.

Spread: 3 – 6 ft.

Bloom Time: May

Native Range: Eastern North America, Pennsylvania

Ecological Value: Nectar source, berries for birds

Human Value: Extremely bitter berries are technically edible and contain a large amount of pectin, but need to be cooked with a great deal of sweetening such as in jams.

August 5, 2020: In a class on attracting animal life to gardens that I took at the Mt. Cuba Center in the fall of 2018, the lecturer said that he had observed that birds preferred black chokeberries to red chokeberries. I look forward to comparing the interest in the two species in our yard this fall (2020). So far, the birds have largely ignored the red chokeberry by the front door.


Bottlebrush Buckeye

Scientific Name: Aesculus parviflora

Family: Sapindaceae

Height: 8 – 12 ft.

Spread: 8 – 15 ft.

Bloom Time: June to July

Native Range: Southeastern United States, Pennsylvania

Ecological Value: Nectar source.

Human Value: Ornamental.

August 5, 2020: Our bottlebrush buckeye, affectionately named Edith, started as a balled and burlapped tree planted by landscapers at my parents’ house in Swarthmore. Unfortunately, their large deer herd found her new shoots irresistible. She struggled for two years before my parents gave her to me in the spring of 2019. Mistaking her species, I planted her in full sun for six months before realizing that she was a shade-loving bottlebrush buckeye.

In the September 2019, I moved her to the shadier northeast boundary of the Side Lot. As of August 2020, she seems to be establishing nicely.