Pollen and pollinator
Each needing the other.
Beautiful to look at
Short time to live
Our world would be worse without them.
Poem 14, April 14, 2019
The author has done a spectacular job of interweaving so many butterfly images, metaphors, and similes into a mosaic of butterfly wings.
GREEN surrounds me as I enter the butterfly pavilion. The leaves of the trees and flowers create an oasis in the Sonoran desert. All seems still inside, protected from the dry winds, until I notice the undulant motion of butterflies winging above me, swooping down to sip at the nectar of the blossoms. The guide warns visitors to watch where we step, what we touch. Fragile life whirls around us. After all these years, I think I understand how they feel. One has to go through so many changes to get to full flower. Now is not yet the time to die.
BROWN fur nestles under the leaf. I’m here anew, peeling the caterpillar off the green veins and stem which define the underside. I curl up my fingers, cupping the bug in my palm. It tickles me and then plays dead inside the tent of my hand, as I…
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On Christmas Day 2016 despite the early promise of bright sunshine, by the time we turned off 17 Mile Drive and arrived at the Butterfly Sanctuary in Pacific Grove, it was gray and chilly. The Sanctuary seemed empty of both people and butterflies.
As we stood there wondering what to do next, one last visitor turned to us. She pointed to a gray haired man who looked like he was ready to get out the cold and enjoy Christmas indoors with his family.
“He’s a docent. He just showed us where the butterflies are.”
“Thanks. Merry Christmas”
“Merry Christmas to you too.”
“Sir, can you please show us where the butterflies are?” We approached the docent in the red windbreaker.
He sighed. “You can’t really see them in the park, but I can show you where there is a cluster.” He lead us up a small alley adjoining the park.
“Do you see what looks like a cluster of dead leaves?” He pointed to what looked like oak leaves hanging from the limb of a cypress tree.
As the sun came out behind the clouds, a few butterflies started to flap their wings, displaying brief brilliant flashes of vibrant oranges and yellows. You had to be looking at the right spot at the right time to catch the momentary bursts of color.
“Thanks for taking the time to show us the Monarchs,” we told him as he made good his escape.
Monarch butterflies follow two different migration patterns. The western monarchs (west of the Rocky Mountains) fly to coastal groves in California. The eastern monarchs (east of the Rockies) have a much further migration–they go all the way to forests in the mountains of Mexico. (Their wintering place in Mexico was not discovered by scientists until 1976 according to the Washington Post.) Daylight and temperature determine when they migrate. The 3,000 mile migration will not be made by a single generation of Monarchs. It may take multiple generations to make a single seasonal migration. Yet somehow the Monarchs know how to make the journey.
Monarch numbers have dropped for both the western and eastern monarchs. Butterfly surveys are done during the spring and fall migration seasons. Butterflies are tagged, which allow observers to determine their migration patterns, health, longevity, and numbers.
There are various hypothesis about why Monarch numbers are declining. They include loss of habitat and the Monarch’s primary food source, milkweed. Other theories are that climate change with earlier spring are prompting the Monarchs to migrate before the milkweed plant blooms. Diseases, parasites, and other bacterial conditions are also mentioned. Many people would like to see the Monarch butterflies added to the endangered specie lists.
What can we do to help the Monarch butterfly? The World Wildlife Fund recommends 6 ways to Save Monarchs. They include planting milkweed, supporting highway habitat corridors, and not using pesticides.
If you want to read a lovely novel about the eastern Monarch butterflies, Mary Alice Monroe has written “The Butterfly’s Daughter” (ISBN978-1439170687) From the author’s page overview “Every year, the monarch butterflies—las mariposas—fly more than two thousand miles on fragile wings to return to their winter home in Mexico. Now Luz Avila makes that same perilous journey south as she honors a vow to her beloved abuela—the grandmother who raised her—to return her ashes to her ancestral village. As Luz departs Milwaukee in a ramshackle old VW Bug, she finds her heart opened by a series of seemingly random encounters with remarkable women. In San Antonio, however, a startling revelation awaits: a reunion with a woman from her past. Together, the two cross into Mexico to await the returning monarchs in the little village Abuela called home, but they are also crossing a border that separates past from present . . . and truth from lies.”
Are the Monarchs your favorite butterfly? Join in the conversation and share your butterly story.