Did you know there was a day set aside for butterflies? National Learn About Butterflies Day, is what they call it.
And so, I have to tell you about a butterfly we have visiting our yard every day. She is very special and a Monarch.
She hatched from an egg laid on my milkweed plants. Nothing unusual about that. But we have some busy lizards who seem to think baby caterpillars look like striped candy! One lizard plays a game of grabbing tiny caterpillars, jerking them off a stem or leaf, and tossing them away. So, I saved one Monarch caterpillar. We’ll call her Baby for this blog post.
I put Baby in a special jar I have for hatching butterflies. Within a week or so, on a Sunday morning, I realized I needed to release her. She had hatched, and her wings had stiffened into beautiful orange, black, and white colors. She was a perfect Monarch and lovely.
As we left for church, I let her cling to my finger, and I took her outside. She fluttered her wings in the sunlight. I knew she wasn’t ready to take a long flight, so I placed her within the branches of a small palm. She was still there when we came home, so I moved her to a different location on the palm. A short time later, she took off, using her wings for the first flight. She circled higher and higher, toward the top of an oak, and I went inside. She had left.
The following Sunday, we came home from church, and a butterfly came fluttering over our heads, circling and dipping in the gentle breeze. She landed on a milkweed plant.
I told my husband, “I bet that’s my butterfly.” We watched her for a moment, but I soon said, “I bet I can touch her.”
I slowly reached toward her and softly touched the sides of her body. She didn’t care!
She has hung around, since then, showing up and exploring the milkweed plants. She still likes to head for the palm tree and comes very close to me. My husband couldn’t stand being left out, so he tried touching her … and she sat still long enough for his fingers to almost touch her dark body, and then, she drifted up over his head.
I do believe it’s Baby! I’ve never had a butterfly act that way.
We have some cold weather coming, and there are caterpillars all over the milkweed plants. I never saw so many! But lizards are everywhere. They are probably playing “Toss the Caterpillar” when I’m not looking! So yesterday, I collected some of the caterpillars and put them in the special jar, with a huge bundle of leaves. They have grown over night! Five have already shed their striped coats and are waiting for the moment they can hatch and fly.
I’ll release them when they hatch. It is so much fun to watch the whole process. I’ve been doing it ever since I was a little girl in Michigan. Dad took pictures of butterflies hanging on my ears. I think every child should see the wonderful process from egg, to caterpillar, and then butterfly. And I’m glad there is a National Learn About Butterflies Day!