Tag Archives: butterfly

The butterflies after the storm

Black swallowtail in the butterfly bush

There’s nothing quite like the clear weather that comes after a good storm. The sky seems extra blue, urging you to look up. That’s how I saw a kettle of hawks migrating this morning. Five or six hawks were wheeling around each other, steadily moving in a southerly direction. The bees were back to business as usual, including the Carpenter Bees in the butterfly bush. Plus, an actual butterfly paid a visit: a big, fluttering Black Swallowtail.

It all makes going out to clean up branches and debris a pleasure.

More monarchs, la-di-da

Two monarch butterflies at the rest stop

I don’t know where we got this overblown scare. Massive storm in the Northeast? Get real! A little wind, a little rain, big deal! What was that, a feather? It’s like the weather keeps saying, To the moon, to the moon, pow! — but the braying is over now. The world is blue skies and butterflies, with a monarch or two passing through.

Looking for the Monarch migration

Monarch nectaring on butterfly bush

Every year around this time, I start looking for Monarch butterflies, hoping to see the migration going by. Usually I see a few straggling by, or stopping to fuel up, like this one on my butterfly bush the other day. When I see a Monarch in fall, I always remember the time I saw streams and streams of them, drifting high in the sky, steadily flowing south. It’s an amazing thing that insects would go so far.

What’s more, these butterfly watchers says this year’s migration is usually big. So there’s a chance that maybe the mass just hasn’t passed by this area yet. And it’s nice to get some good news about something environmental for a change. The world could always use more butterflies.

The crowd on the bee and butterfly bush

The butterfly bush is surrounded by the darting shadows of bees against the all-too-clear blue sky. Amid the heat wave, this and the coneflowers are the main source of nectar around here. The powdery lavender scent is drawing an amazing variety of bees and such.

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Last year, the butterfly bush was the domain of the Carpenter bees, but I haven’t seen more than a couple of these enormous versions of bumblebees with shiny black butts. Instead, a bee I’ve never seen before seems to be taking their place: the Giant Resin bee. It’s a big bee, longer than a honeybee. Its body is russet, its tail shiny black, and the wings have dark shadows on them. And it’s not a native! It comes from Asia. Like the Carpenter bee, it nests in cavities in wood. I really wonder if they’ve muscled in on last year’s Carpenter nest.

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More birds, fewer bugs

Downy Woodpecker resorting to sunflower seeds I wonder if I’m paying more attention to the birds because it’s time to resign myself to not seeing any Monarch butterflies this year. I saw plenty of other big orange and yellow butterflies, but not one monarch, not even in passing. What happened to them?

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The butterfly bush works

An American Lady

An American Lady

I’m beginning to resign myself to not seeing any monarch butterflies this year. It’s strange. I saw several last year (or possibly the same one taunting me), and the year before streams and streams of them in the fall migration. This year, not the merest sight of a monarch. Not that there’s been a shortage of big and/or yellow butterflies. And the latest is a lady.

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Jupiter is a dot

Swallowtail Butterfly

Swallowtail Butterfly

I saw lots of neat stuff today, but you’ll have to take my word for it.

First thing this morning, two goldfinches were feeding on the coneflowers, and the nyjer feeder, and the evening primrose.  But I didn’t get a picture and you’ll have to take my word for it.

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Black swallowtail

Black Swallowtail on Butterfly bush

Black Swallowtail on Butterfly bush

Time for another big fat butterfly picture. This one I caught Monday, when I saw a huge butterfly swooping around the butterfly bush. How cliche. How pretty. The way it kept sweeping its wings as it fed made it hard to miss, even from a distance. That’s why the wings are a bit blurry.

According to Bug Guide, it’s a Black Swallowtail. There’s a whole range of similar big dark-winged swallowtails. As far as I’m concerned, this guy is the standard model, and all the others are variants. I’ve got the real thing.

Big Fat Yellow Butterfly

Tiger Swallowtail

Tiger Swallowtail

Let’s see, how are the flower weeks doing? The roses are petering out, but there’s still plenty of them. The peonies look good, though thunderstorms tonight will probably put a stop to that. The irises are in full flower, so maybe I should stop badmouthing them. They do last more than a week each, but they didn’t get any butterflies.

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Alebrije

Un alebrije

Leroy: El roy de todos los alebrijes

I’ve been suckered by the craziest thing. Have you ever been to an animal shelter and there’s that one cat (or dog) and you take one look and you know you’re in trouble. Well, I got that feeling when I saw Leroy.

He’s an alebrije, a wood carving from Oaxaca. They’ve travelled from fever dreams to fine art galleries to little shops in San Diego Old Town. Naturally, since I bought him, I’m convinced that Leroy is an extra special example. Maybe it because he looks like a of Jim Woodring creature. Maybe it’s because his wings were on crooked. Maybe it’s because he seemed to smile right at me like he knew.

After that other creatures were pretty ordinary.

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