June 1, 2010

Mothera vs. Batrzella - Itoh Peonies and Cecropia Moths.

Oh, it' is SO, June. Luna Moths and Peonies.

Yesterday, the Itoh Hybrid peony 'Barszella' began to open in the gold and blue garden, where there are four Itoh hybrids. Tonight, after a thunderstorm, the flowers are all laying down, (as peonies which are not properly staked will do), but the flowers are massive, and still a bright yellow, even thought the color in the light of dusk photograph's lighter. It is truly a butter yellow, and almost a foot in diameter.
It is June first, Silk Moth season.  These next two weeks mark our brief season of large, showy native species of Silk Moths, or those genus within the family Saturniinae. You know,  the big show moths which are bark and rbown colored with huge owl-like eyes, and, of course, the famous Luna moth. During these early weeks of June, these moths emerge, mate, lay eggs and die, all within a few days, and this year, I don't want to miss them again.


No moths tonight, but we know that they are out there. Here,  black walnut tree, a favorite species for adult females laying eggs shortly after mating.

A beautiful Luna moth photographed by Flickr member Daveelmore, and shared under the Creative Commons License.

Luna moths, and other Saturnid moths And four other moth species in the family Saturniinae  such as the Polyphemus moth ( Antheraea polyphemus), Promethea silkmoth ( Callosamia pomethea) and the Cecropia moth ( Hyalophora cecropia). In central Massachusetts, these moths emerge in late may, and the first couple weeks of June, to breed in a couple days, and then lay thier eggs and die, all within a few days, so catching them at the right time it critical. 

This evening after a band of thunderstorms passed through,the woods are steamy and warm, perfect Cecropia weather, but no luck. I took the big flashlight out into the woods looking at tree trunks and under eaves of the pheasant coop, but no mothes seen tonight, at least in the back yard. So tomorrow, a longer hike is planned at a nearby state park.

Itoh hybrids are beautiful peonies, crosses between herbaceous and tree peonies created by peony master Itoh, so they are essentially herbaceous tree peonies, which means that the die back to the ground every year). They are an investment, like any good peony, but these get better every year, and outshine regular 'ol herbaceous forms. Itoh hybrids are often yellow, with red flaming not unlike true tree peonies. The flower is huge, almost a foot in diameter, and one plant can have 30 flowers reportedly, but my 5 year old 'Barzella' has 5 buds this year ( the most it has ever had). 


OK, the pheasants were not too thrilled with all of the Luna Moth, Polyphemous and Cecropia Moth hunting going on. Tomorrow evening, we'll leave them alone and move onto the deeper woods.

1 comment :

  1. Hi Matt: Wow what a blog. The depth and sophistication and photography and sleek design long since abandoned in the US gardening mags (so I just bought an issue of Plant Society, natch). You must have ten hands, and need no sleep. I'm in awe. And, oh yes, of Bartzella too. Which I love love love. Mine hasn't had more than 8 - 9 flowers yet either, but I live in hope.

    Congrats again!

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