Saturday, September 22, 2018

Something in the Air Calls Them Home

The monarchs are on the move.  In graceful phalanxes they drift over mountains, rivers and cities as they head to Mexico. This is the special fourth generation, the one that lives nine months so that they can complete the trip and then spend the winter hanging in masses from the oyamel firs of the Sierra Madres mountains of Mexico.

They don't eat anything while they are there, so the monarchs must fuel up on nectar as they travel. They have been landing like feathers shaken out of a pillow on the zinnias I plant every year especially for them.

Thursday was a perfect migration day for the butterflies. They fluttered over the goldenrod in the school's Outdoor Learning Lab in such large numbers that my five STEM students trapped and tagged 16 in just 20 minutes.

When I got home, I pulled a chair up to my zinnia patch and settled in for the show. The butterflies rose and drifted away at my intrusion, but I knew the flowers would draw them back quickly.

First one, then multiples of flapping, fluttering stained glass joy returned and landed on the flower bar.

How many can you find in the next picture?

There was even a spotted intruder. Not sure what kind of butterfly he was, but he dropped down to join his cousins.

As dusk fell, the last of the butterflies rose up and fluttered off. I know that they roost overnight huddled together for warmth in a roost tree, usually a pine, but although I tried to follow their erratic flights, I never did discover where they landed.

No matter, they left behind joy and a new appreciation for the beautiful world we share.  Isn't God amazing?

Monday, September 17, 2018

Pearls of Light

This has been the rainiest summer I can ever remember and we just missed major damage from Hurricane Flo, who left her wet footprints all over North Carolina and southwestern Virginia.

The ground is so wet that it's like walking on a sponge. Water spurts out everywhere you step.

Nevertheless, there is beauty in the rain. It creates the most wondrous pearls of light.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

The Milkweed Mansion

Milkweed is coveted by those who love Monarch butterflies, because it is the only food the caterpillars, who eventually grow those lovely orange and black wings, can eat. No milkweed means no monarchs.

Milkweeds leak bitter white sap and most mammals avoid them, but I was surprised, when I started paying attention, to find many other insects making use of the plant.

And of course
Monarch caterpillars....