Wait – There’s a Good Honeysuckle?!

This weekend, Pete and I were at one of our favorite places to buy native plants, Scioto Gardens. I really enjoy talking to the owner, Mike, who is so knowledgeable about all the plants in Ohio. I often fear for ever getting Pete to leave, especially when he and Mike start talking about native orchids. Anyway, we were up at Scioto Gardens looking at plants when I heard Pete exclaim, “Mike! What are you doing selling honeysuckle?!” Then, as Mike started to come over to see what all the fuss was about, I heard Pete yell, “Holy cow! There’s a native honeysuckle? I didn’t know there was a native honeysuckle! It looks just like the stuff we are trying to pull out of the ravine! And it smells good, too! We can replace all the non-native honeysuckle with this native stuff! I have to get some of this for my yard! Wait until I tell Mike (McLaughlin) and Jason (Advani) that I planted honeysuckle in my backyard! They won’t believe it! They know I hate honeysuckle!” (If you’ve ever heard Pete talk about native plants, this conversation is very believable…)

Now Pete is always one to extoll the virtues of using native plants. I agree that natives can be beautiful and can better handle the weather conditions in Ohio, including drought. But one of the other benefits of having native plants is the insects that are attracted to these plants, something that my entomologist husband gets excited about. When I can home from work today, Pete was like a little kid, informing me that we had a snout butterfly (Libytheana carinenta) in our yard, something that John Shuey, who studies butterflies, told Pete would never make its way into an urban environment. My first thought was, “How could anyone put the word “snout” in a name for something as beautiful as a butterfly?” (When you look at the picture, you’ll see why that common name was chosen.) Pete thinks that the combination of removing invasive species from Glen Echo along with the newly planted native trees is bringing a greater diversity to our neighborhood.

According to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, the American Snout is the only butterfly species that was originally described from Ohio. In other words, the first butterfly of this species ever found was in Ohio, in 1852, by Jared P. Kirkland, a naturalist from Cleveland. The larvae feed on hackberry; this butterfly was feeding on the wild quinine in our yard and seemed quite content to get all of his (or her) nectar from that source.

Until next time.

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