Monday, August 2, 2010
Mother Nature tries to pay attention to all my creatures, but sometimes the pleasant ones just escape my attention. That is what happened this year with my butterflies. Lots of rain, heat, humidity, and sun have made the prairie plants thrive this year. The plants are strong and vibrant and the invasives are struggling. They put out shallow roots with all the rain because they are lazy; now with the heat and sun they are being overwhelmed by the natives.
This was a great year for butterflies. I think the vibrant native plants with their bigger leaves and flowers provided a nice hiding place for the caterpillars to develop into butterflies. The surplus of plants due to careful weeding last year and large flower production this year has created lots of food sources. The train guys dug up lots of mud trying to control the excess water (they are silly and wasting their time). Add in some heavy rains that may have affected the bird and predator population and you have a spectacular butterfly year. Mother Nature is very proud of her work this summer. Hopefully, the snakes and spiders that eat butterflies may not be as prevelant in the late summer.
Sulphurs, fritillaries, and skippers are the largest populations, but there are several swallowtails, buckeyes, and hackberry emperors. The normal Monarch population is quite thin this year, maybe due to the loss of the milkweed near the turntable. Dumb train guys read something about lowering the milkweed density to make it easier for monarchs. Dumb advice.
Finally, the top picture was taken by Bob of a buckeye on one of the big purple coneflowers. Also, a nice picture of Girls Gone Wild -- several female cloudless sulphurs enjoying the sun and mud at the drainage ditch across the driveway. Picture by Jonathan Smith.
Come out and enjoy the trains and butterflies. Wear some bright purple or yellow and the butterflies will think you are a flower and ride with you on the train.
Mother Nature thanks you for enjoying her work.