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TOPIC B: BUTTERFLY

“Happiness is like a butterfly which, when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit quietly, may alight upon You.”  Nathaniel Hawthorne

One of My Dad's Photos

One of My Dad’s Photos

I have always been enthralled by butterflies.  If they come into view, I stop to watch as they flit from flower to flower or hover over the garden, keeping just out of reach.  A friend always said her brother—when he was little—called them “flutterbys!”  Sounds right to me.  They are beautiful, delicate, ethereal.  They come in all colors and sizes, but most are cagey enough to not let me photograph them.  Here are a few that I have been able to capture in a picture:

black butterfly on thistle

butterfly-on-red-flower-1

orange on orange

tiger swallow on purple

However, it is the Monarch Butterfly that really fascinates me. A couple of times my dad and I have visited Pacific Grove, CA, one of the wintering sites for Monarchs as they travel on their annual migration.  It is absolutely amazing to see thousands of these gorgeous butterflies covering trees while they hibernate. On a cloudy day, you might miss them as they keep their wings folded to keep warm, so they look a lot like clumps of leaves.  The days we were there were more overcast than sunny, so our sightings were not as glorious as they might have been—but they amazed us!

See how easily they disappear:

Trees Hiding Monarch Butterflies

Trees Hiding Monarch Butterflies

Monarchs Hanging Like Leaves

Monarchs Hanging Like Leaves

But if you look closer, you can find them:

hanging monarchs

hanging monarchs 2

And sometimes you find them in the sunshine:

These Monarchs Are Actually Mating

These Monarchs Are Actually Mating

mating butterflies 2

monarch on ice plant

Learning the details about these beautiful insects and their life cycle just adds to the wonder of their existence.  Talk about marvels of nature!  There is a terrific website aptly named Monarch Butterfly Website that gives all the information you could ever want about Monarch Butterflies.  The site allows people to copy and distribute their articles and materials, as long as appropriate credit is given.  They share things like terrific photos—see below—as well as news items, coloring pages, and ways to help, raise and release these magnificent creatures yourself.

All Stages of the Monarch Butterfly from the Monarch Butterfly Website

All Stages of the Monarch Butterfly from the
Monarch Butterfly Website

Hibernating Monarchs from the Monarch Butterfly Website

Hibernating Monarchs from the Monarch Butterfly Website

From what I have learned, Monarch Butterflies are the only insects that migrate every year over 2500 miles in search of warmer climates for the winter. They need to hibernate in specific trees and—as caterpillars—need to eat certain plants (milkweed). Searching for those resources as well as warmer weather triggers the migrations. One wintering site is the small eucalyptus grove in Pacific Grove, CA.  Butterflies return to this site year after year, but it is different butterflies.  Actually, it is every fourth generation that makes it back to the original trees their ancestors visited.  Remarkable!  Reminds me, I need to go back to Pacific Grove to see these beautiful creatures in action once again—maybe this time I will catch them on a sunny day.

Until then, this video “Amazing Journeys: Monarch Butterflies—Mexico” gives a first-hand glimpse into the “mysterious and wondrous migrations” of the Monarch Butterfly.  Enjoy.

Comments on: "TOPIC B: BUTTERFLY" (18)

  1. I just don’t seem to see as many butterflies as I did during my youth. On the bright side, we get a fun butterfly show here every spring … thus a past post you may enjoy.

  2. We used to have lots of butterflies in our big yard in San Antonio, especially black swallowtails, but we haven’t managed to see many in our little courtyard in the city. I did have tons of beautiful caterpillars on my flat-leafed parsley last summer though.

  3. I especially love the second picture with the purple flower! I have a terrible time getting any kind of butterfly photo. But also I see them very, very rarely 😦

    • Thanks for stopping by. I wish I saw them more–but they rarely pose or pictures. There are occasionally dragonflies by the little brook tha runs through my apartment complex–I love them too! They never let me get a picture. Ever.

  4. Great post. I ahve always wanted to see the Monarchs when they migrate! Maybe now I’ll plan to fine them. 🙂

  5. I’ve been in Pacific Grove for more than 25 years and have often heard about the Butterfly Trees; but have never seen them. There is no such tree that is known as a Butterfly Tree. However, there is a Butterfly Bush, and having planted one in Pacific Grove I can testify that they are indeed quite beautiful shrubs. The so-called Butterfly Trees in Pacific Grove are found on a path off Ridge Road [Intersection of Ridge Road & Lighthouse Avenue near 17 Mile Drive]. It surprised me to find out that they are actually Eucalyptus trees which appear to be a couple hundred feet tall. (Left, Lighthouse & Ridge Road sign) Update 02-21-2001: I went back to the Butterfly Trees but was unable to see any butterflies in the trees but I did see a few floating around. There was also a docent present on the bench.

    • You are so right! The “Butterfly Trees” are Eucalyptus trees. This time of year is about the end of their stay in PG, so maybe next fall you will see more actual butterflies. Thanks for stopping by.

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