Thursday, September 18, 2003

The monarch butterflies have both taken off for (we hope) bigger and better things. The first one, a male, emerged yesterday, and the second, a female, today. (Contrary to my dire predictions based on her larval behavior, she did not fly backwards.) We've had excellent monarch weather here in southwest Michigan, fortunately, and we have four butterfly bushes (Buddleia) that really draw the pre-migratory feeding frenzy. There have been a couple of occasions this week where we've seen over a dozen monarchs at a time, plus the occasional painted lady or silver-spotted skipper, on a single shrub.

Rearing a couple of butterflies shouldn't be such a big deal to me, since I've reared literally thousands of insects for my research and know many other people who have done the same. There is something wonderfully personal, though, about taking a caterpillar or two into your home, feeding and sheltering them, and watching them mature and eventually fly away. I love my lab work, but it's always good to be reminded that nature is indeed personal; we're part of it, we rely on it, and it's probably of selective value that most of us (at least to some extent) are capable of enjoying it.


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