Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Magic Begins

Every year, we "grew" monarch butterflies with the kids.  We are on the path for some of them as they make their way to Mexico each fall.  I have noticed over the last week or so a single monarch flitting about at La Ti Da.  We always mow around the milk weed because it is the only place they lay their eggs.  We have a couple of nice stands that are blooming now, and they smell delicious.  Today, after I built part of the house all by myself (see previous entry), I decided to try and get a photo or two.  Have a look.

I kept watching, hoping to see her lay some eggs, but she was just eating.
But, then another butterfly came and I'm not sure, but it could have been that part that comes before the egglaying part.  They were both flying around and around each other in a dizzying dance until they both dropped to the grass in a jumble of wings and legs.  Can you tell there are 2 there?

As I tried to sneak up on them to take the picture, the one on top held the other one and flew up into a tall tree that my little camera wouldn't get close enough for you to see.  He moved a couple of times, holding her tightly, while she kept her wings completely closed.  I had to leave so I didn't get to see the end...you don't think she's dead, do you?

And then there were other visitors on the milkweed...I'm pretty pleased with this picture from my little camera...

Look at how amazing each little flowerette is and how furry the bee....
What you can see when you look.
Oh, I got to watch the big blue eyed black spider who lives on my chair, eat an inch worm today...we were all having lunch at the same time!  I didn't think you would want to see pictures.


13 comments:

K said...

Here is a sad truth: the only place where we have milkweed growing is the pasture, and I can't let it be there. Milkweed has digitalis in it and if a horse eats any tiny part of it, can have a heart attack. I feel awful every time I kill a milkweed plant, thinking of butterflies. Everything eats something, everything that is good for one can be awful for another. Life is complicated. I wish it weren't.

Scoutmaster said...

Quite an interesting pharmacological history associated with this, quite large, class of drugs, as well as with mother nature's use of them as "bioweaponry" in the butterfly. :)

Donna said...

Kristen, that must be scary to have to keep track of the milkweed to keep your horsies safe. I have some seeds I could send you to plant in the yard....
Wonder if it can hurt the dog or cats.
William, you would know all about the pharmacology.
BTW, both Monarch's are back today...no one died.

no spring chicken said...

Look at you, Donna the naturalist. I too enjoyed a butterfly dance this morning. There were actually 3 and it all took place around the geraniums in the window box on the garage. I was enthralled. :)

Blessings, Debbie

Donna said...

Watching a monarch caterpillar turn into a chrysallis and then come out of that chrysallis is just about the most amazing thing I have ever seen. One year we were waiting and keeping a close eye on the big caterpillars when one of my little ones shouted (in the middle of another lesson, of course) "Oooh, oooh, oooh, it's turning into a raccoon right now!" She had the joy and amazement....only her vocabulary was a bit off!

Scoutmaster said...

The milkweed is toxic to all mammalian species who have hearts, but since cats and dogs "normally" do not eat it, the risk is low. Its the grazing animals that are at risk.

Donna said...

So, I should be sure and keep my little husband from grazing!

W-S Wanderings said...

Oh, I feel so conflicted about milkweed. We have so much of it around here, and some is in the pastures. Luckily, our horses have enough of the good stuff to graze that they ignore the milkweed that sneaks in. But such a worry, especially now that we plan on haying our fields. Milkweed remains toxic even when its dried. What if it ends up in the bales?????? We have got to ramp up our pasture milkweed eradication. BEFORE they go to seed. Ack!

Donna said...

WSW, you don't have any choice but to eradicate. I will enjoy mine even more fully for all of you who can not. Deal? Keep your furry friends safe!

K said...

Thank you, Scout Master! I knew I had read that in many places, and it's good to know the information is solid. My horses graze around the stuff. I don't think they are attracted to it at all. it's just the chance that they might get a mouthful of some that's been broken off or something. I don't hay my tiny pasture, but I worry they will get ahold of the old stuff, or some of the short broken bits. I have gotten hay with stuff in it - mare's tail is also poison for horses (blocks the metabolism of B vitamins) and it grows EVERYWHERE. But you only have to worry with that if the stuff makes up over 30% of the horse's diet.

See - I waited till I retired from motherhood, when I was almost free of worry about people sticking forks into electrical outlets - to get horses so I can worry about what plants itself in the pasture without my realizing -

Donna said...

Your kids are just bigger and hairier these days and in very good hands with you as their "momma". :-)

Forest-Dweller said...

Donna,
We had learned about the Monarchs flight two years ago. I found a web sight that supports the little beauties and we ordered some Milkweed seeds. We saw a larva last year on one. And we are hoping to have some flowers this year.
I am thinking of giving the seeds as gifts along with a note about them.

With All That I Am
Carrie "Forrest-Dweller" Duvall
The Handmade Homemaker

Donna said...

Carrie, for my retirement party we gave everyone milkweed seeds with a note on the back. There used to be a web site that you could pair up with a class in Mexico where the monarchs winter and send pictures of butterflies back and forth. Don't know what it was or if it is still working. The more you read about the monarchs the more amazing they are.