Thursday, April 2, 2009

Butterflies in the Hill Country

It's butterfly time again in the Texas Hill Country, a time when thousands of Monarch butterflies descend upon us during their annual trip north. The butterfly migration coincides with the arrival of our spring flowers that sprinkle the fields and roadsides. The Monarchs return in the fall, which is when I'm generally ready for them. Fall is when most of my garden's butterfly plants tend to bloom.

Texas has more butterfly species than any other state in the U.S. and the Hill Country is home to more than 150 varieties. I've been blessed with the presence of Whites and Sulphurs--which are yellow--for many weeks now. They flit about my head when I am working on my plants. I also have a few pipevine swallowtails that seem to favor my yard. These are some of my favorites. They have a wingspan of about 3 1/2 inches. They are black with a bluish metallic color on their hind wings. They tend to favor the lantana I grow in the back yard, but we also have an unusual amount of bluebonnets blooming this spring, and the swallowtails like these, too.

My stepson spotted an interesting butterfly last week. It was white with black spots, like cow markings. It paused on our outdoor umbrella as if posing so we could take a closer look. It's markings were perfectly proportioned. It slowly opened and closed its wings, then flew off again. It wasn't very large as far as butterflies go.

I seem to attract butterflies and always have from the time I was a child. Once, when I was around six, a butterfly landed on the tip of my nose. I have never forgotten that moment. They frequently land on my hands, arms, clothing, and sometimes on top of my head.

I know more than a few people who do not like butterflies. They think they look too much like bugs, which makes sense considering they are bugs! The way I see it, all bugs have their purpose on our planet, and as long as the bug isn't trying to bite me or creep into my mouth when I'm asleep, then I am perfectly content sharing my space with it.

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