If you plant it they will come

For the upteenth (ok probably about 10th) straight year Sleepy Oranges (Abaeis nicippe) have found their way to my yard. Drawn by the presence of their larval hostplant Wild Senna (Cassia marilandica) they have become annual visitors, arriving each year in late spring from their home range in more southern climes. Not being widely sold, if you have these plants in your yard you’ll likely be the only person in town that does and somehow the butterflies find you. Without wild senna chances are you will never see a Sleepy Orange in Nebraska. So while the plant is a little hard to come by you might look into planting some on your property. Fair warning – while not overly aggressive this plant does spread some by seed. It also grows to over 5′ tall so take that into account as well.

While you would think that once locating plants to lay eggs on that the population would continue to grow throughout the season. I have not found this to be the case. They are fairly common once the first group emerges but each successive generation becomes less numerous until by summer’s end they have often disappeared. Also if you have but one plant and several females find it by the time the caterpillars are done it might not be much to look at. But established plants usually bounce right back. Wild Senna is native to southeast Nebraska.

The addition of Sleepy Oranges brings the “Big Year” species total to 42.

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