The pink/magenta beauty of Tall Thistles (Cirsium altissimum) comes into full force at the end of summer. Our native Tall Thistles should not be confused with non-native, noxious weeds, such as Musk Thistle. Tall Thistles contribute energetically to the prairie ecosystem. With their lavish production of nectar and pollen, they attract hungry visitors--hummingbirds, bees, moths, and butterflies:
Some insects specialize in thistles, such as the gorgeous Paracantha flies. Here several members of the fruit-fly family meet and greet on Tall Thistles. You can see some pairing up for the famous fruit-fly courting ritual, which involves "kissing":
Mama Paracantha chooses a thistle bud and seeks out the parts that are at just the right stage to host her eggs. When her young ones hatch, they will be surrounded by thistle blossom--the very food they need:
Never disparage native thistles. Plant them! Ecologically, they are a treasure.