I was recently asked about flowers that I would recommend for a large wildflower patch in the Detroit area. Thinking in terms of flowers that are definitely attractive to both insects and to humans, I quickly came up with a list of 10.
High on the list was Purple Coneflower, a July boomer that seems to be irresistible.
The pink or purple flowers are large and colorful, several or many to a plant. While the petals droop at times as in some other coneflowers species, they are frequently flat and occasionally rising.
They attract butterflies more than most other flowers. Monarchs, it seems, find them irresistible. This picture found two.
I often stop near Purple Coneflowers when I am thinking of trying to get butterfly photos and have found that this is a good strategy.
Here is a Tiger Swallowtail
Others include, top left clockwise, Clouded Sulphur, Peck’s Skipper, Red Admiral, and Eastern Black Swallowtail.
In addition, they attract a wide variety of bees and wasps. Most recently, Bumblebees have been present in large numbers.
The relationship of insects and flowers is, of course, a mutually beneficial one: insects get fed and flowers get pollinated.
Many of us humans are also drawn to Purple Coneflowers, and I am wondering how this can be somewhat mutually beneficial. We benefit from their beauty and from the opportunity to observe the insects up close. Perhaps they benefit by our planting and promoting them.
Now is the best time of the summer to observe these coneflowers and the critters they attract.