The Butterflies and the Figs

I am a scientist, but I believe in signs. Mine come from nature.

Today was tough. I won’t share my troubles. I needed to be alone.

I went down to sit in my sad chair. It’s where I sit to sort out my crises.

I was pondering my problems when I was distracted by fluttering in the fig.

This is the “Miss Robbie” fig tree. It has a history.

That history did not include butterflies until today.

Now we can say these flutterbys were passing through and stopped for a snack.

This may be true, but this is the first time of my seeing them on a thirty-year-old fig tree.

Mama was on my mind and Miss Robbie was sending me a sign.

She is on the other side with my daddy you see.

They probably saw me crying in the sad chair and felt compelled to send those butterflies.

They may have been angels stopping by to put my troubled mind at ease.

Nature has a way of healing me when I am hurting.

All I have to do is be still.



The Verbena Arena

This is my first year with Verbena bonariensis.  It was a gift.

I love it for its tight purple clusters of blooms and its airy loose stems.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterfly ‘ Papilio polyxenes asterius’

I did not know that it was a butterfly favorite.

Spicebush Swallowtail Butterfly ‘Papilio troilus’

On any warm day, I can count on a show at the verbena arena.


I cut the stems back when they went to seed, thinking the show was over.

Painted Lady butterfly ‘Cynthia cardui ‘

I was mistaken. They have grown back and re-bloomed.


I will be cutting them back each June to encourage a second show in August.


Who knew?  Probably you.  Flower is always the last to know everything.

Buckeye butterfly ‘ Precis coenia’

Slow Flow

The Painted Lady and the Garlic

I appreciate my gap-filling plants that keep the butterflies around all summer.

One of the butterfly favorites is garlic chives, Alium tuberosa.


These lovely white bloom clusters are full of fliers in August.

I can count on getting photographs of something on them any time of day.

This morning I had the good fortune of finding a Painted Lady.

These have four eyespots with a cobweb pattern on the underside of their hindwings.


The garlic chive plants keep them busy until the sedums bloom.

This plant is so hardy that a clump has survived out of the ground for over a year.

I cut the blooms as they mature because it will seed itself everywhere.

It is deer resistant and beautiful. The butterflies are an added bonus.



Timing is Everything

I brought home a pod of butterfly weed seeds over two decades ago.


I got it while on a trip with my sister and one of our college friends.

I planted the seeds along this bank.

Danaus plexippus on Asclepias tuberosa

It has taken years for the plants to mature.

My dream was to see them covered in Monarchs.

Maybe some have come before while I was not watching.

This year most of my butterfly weed has finished blooming, except for this one plant.


The Monarch(s) came two days ago.

As I pulled up my driveway yesterday.

I saw my dream.

Monarch butterfly on Butterfly weed.

A lone Monarch on the one plant that was a late bloomer.

I ran for my camera.

After taking many photos, I stood and reveled in my good fortune.


The timing of the Butterfly weed still blooming, the Monarch visiting, my arriving home while it was there and getting my camera in time to capture it all.

Everything is a miracle.


Living Up to its Name

My butterfly bush was as busy as an airport yesterday.

This is a Black Knight Buddleia with deep purple blooms.


It was covered by dozens of butterflies yesterday evening.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail on Black Knight Buddleia

Along with the various types of butterflies were several Hummingbird Clearwing moths.

Hummingbird Clearwing Moth/ Hemaris thysbe

and a lone MONARCH!


I was so glad to have my camera. This is the first Monarch butterfly I have seen this year.

I love watching all the fliers sharing the flowers.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail and Silver-Spotted Skipper


Lessons from a Butterfly

I have been watching this one for days.


I have been wondering how it could possibly fly with that tattered wing.


It has been feeding on the butterfly bush along with all the perfect butterflies.


I watched it fly this morning.

No bobbing, swooping or gliding like the normal butterfly flight.


It was rapidly beating its wings, no meandering.

This one was all business about staying up and going somewhere.

Thank you sister. You are today’s inspiration.


FLOWER can fly again, too.

Lovin’ some Larvae

Butterflies do not just hatch from the egg with wings.

Fritillary Butterfly

They must first go through a larval stage called caterpillar.

Variegated Fritillary caterpillar on Passion vine

Then they have to bind themselves up for a while to go through metamorphosis.

While they are wrapped up(pupating) in the chrysalis (not pictured),

all their cells rearrange into a butterfly or moth.  Then they have their wings.

Sphinx moth caterpillar on Four o’clocks

Now everybody loves butterflies and colorful moths.

What if we went around killing all the weird and spiky worms in our yards?

Fritillary caterpillar after molting

Then there would be no lovely fliers later, because everyone killed them as babies.

Gulf Fritillary caterpillar on Passion vine

If you don’t ” love some larvae”, leave them alone.

They are waiting for their wings.



Tattered Wings: Still Flying

Mama Nature is quietly teaching me another lesson.

I have been chasing butterflies, you see.

Not all of them are beautiful and perfect.


Many have tattered wings.


They still fly like the rest.


They have survived some damage.

Maybe a lizard’s bite, or a spider web’s tether or a hungry bird’s claws or beak.

Maybe they were battered by a storm.


They have lost pieces of themselves that will never grow back,

but they are still flying.



Chasing Butterflies

If you are not crazy yet, try chasing butterflies.

I am not talking about the sweet Swallowtails.


They soar purposefully in the direction of their destination

then land on a flower and spend hours eating and ignoring everything else.


I am also not referring to the beautiful Buckeyes

Common Buckeye/ Junonia coenia

who flit like twirly leaves before landing on a sedum to spend the day.

American Lady/ Vanessa virginiensis

Nor the American Lady which stays put, but seldom opens her wings for a peek at their upper-side colors.


Not the tiny little Gray Hairstreak either, with its tail appendages that move like antennae.

Gray Hairstreak/ Strymon melinus

Not even the Cloudless Sulfur that zig zags around and then lands on green things so you can’t find it.

Cloudless Sulfur/ Phoebis sennae

The “pic-tease” of the butterfly world is the Monarch.

It has played my like a paparazzi this week.

Monarch/ Danaus plexippus

On Sunday I quietly stalked it for sometime, then shamelessly ran down the drive after it.

When I finally came to my senses and returned to the  house to fold laundry,

it coasted across in front of my bedroom window and looked in.


On Monday  I took a photo break to give the neighbor’s dog a bone.

I looked out the front door as I closed it to see the Monarch glide across the porch.

Who’s zoomin’ who?


This game went on for days until finally, it settled itself for a few precious minutes on some garlic blooms.

It stayed just long enough for me to snap a few, not-so-great photos.

I am glad the Monarch is savvy.   I fear for its future.

It’s a long way to the forests of central Mexico and much of its forest has been logged or blown down by storms.

I love all butterflies, but the tricky little Monarch has a special place in my paparazzi heart.