Not a Good Way to Welcome an Admiral

Jul 20, 2017

It was not a good way to welcome an admiral.

The Red Admiral butterfly, that is.

The Vanessa atalanta fluttered into our pollinator garden on Sunday, July 16 in Vacaville, Calif., and touched down on a Mexican sunflower (Tithonia).

The warmth of the sun, the rich nectar, a soft breeze, and all was well.

For a little while.

Several territorial male long-horned bees spied the stranger and pulled out the welcome mat. In a frenzy, they began dive-bombing the colorful black and red butterfly, trying to chase it away. "Those flowers are for our girls!" they seemed to say. "Leave! Now!"

Everywhere the butterfly went, a squadron of bombers followed. The sailboat-like wings proved a clear target. 

One bullet-of-a-bee, probably a Melissodes agilis, slammed into the butterfly's wings, and that was enough.

"This pollinator garden's not big enough for both of us!"