My friends Indira Ganesan and Barbara Shark each report monarch butterflies in their gardens, but I’ve had none for years, though I’ve planted dill, which used to attract them and host their caterpillars. I’ve even tried to introduce milkweed, which is a big monarch draw, but it won’t take in my yard. I’m about to plant my fifth butterfly bush (Buddleja davidii or alternifolia). They seem not to like me either and die away in less than a season. Could it be I have too many big trees and not enough sun for them?

As I’ve written before, there are fewer butterflies of any kind in my garden with every passing year. Which is why, although I can’t stand this invasive variety of phlox, I keep it.

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Oh, it’s okay in spots here and there around the garden, but lobbed smack up against my beautiful scarlet and fuchsia monarda, I find it distinctly aesthetically UNpleasing.

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However … just when I’m about remove it in a fit of phloxphobia, this happens:

phlox and swallowtail2

The swallowtail lands on the phlox, opens its wings, flattens, and embraces the flower full-on. And it does so only on this particular stand. It’ll sip on the others around the garden, but these are its true love object.

My friend Nan wonders if it’s laying eggs. I hope not, because I cut the flowers and compost them before they can turn to seed. I’d hate to think I’m contributing to the butterfly demise.

Phlox and swallowtail