The way to love someone
is to lightly run your finger over that person's soul
until you find a crack,
and then gently pour your love into that crack.
~Keith Miller

Thursday, June 30, 2011

These past several days I have been streaming a NOVA special about monarch butterflies while I do other things ... like housework and playing card games with V. I like butterflies ... like everyone does probably, what's not to like. I really like to visit the butterfly house at Callaway Gardens, but it's the people looking at butterflies that I really like to see when I'm there. Butterflies seem like flying flowers to me. I have paid attention to the word for butterfly in different languages ... it always sounds like a pretty word. That's pretty much my whole file on butterflies ... Oh! Except this part, which is why I chose to view the NOVA program in the first place. I know they migrate right through Texas on their way to the same place in Mexico every year. That place in Mexico was on my to see list before traveling in Mexico became unappealing to me ... I wondered where ... if ... there was some reliable place to see them in mass in Texas. The answer to that is probably, maybe yes, maybe no. They are definitely on their way to a specific place to hibernate ... they do stop for weather and food enroute though. Weather pretty much determines where their food is too I bet.

The NOVA special isn't available on Netflix at present. I hadn't realized that they rotate their documentaries ... I had not been taking notes like I like to do. So this morning I was surprised when I sat down with a fresh bouquet of gardenias, hot coffee, favorite pen and moleskin notebook, the delightful iPad2 ...all set to focus on the program ... and ... nope! It is not available! Rats!

Here are my notes culled from various sites These guys specifically asked for a citation if their info was used.

Four stages:
Larvae (caterpillar)
Pupa (chrysalis)
Adult butterfly

Four generations (per year)
The Nova program had the cycle beginning in Canada with a southwesterly migration to Mexico. I'll keep an eye out for that documentary, because it was pretty succinct. Hopefully, I'll be able to get back to this post with notes from them, but for today, I'll go with this:

Four generations:
G1 out of hibernation ... find a mate ... begin migration to the NE to lay eggs. In March and April the eggs are laid on milkweed and four days later they hatch. Caterpillars live to eat for two weeks. Nova had something about the caterpillar out growing it's skin several times during this stage ... I'm looking for some specifics on that. The chrysalis stage is a time of metamorphosis which lasts ten days. As I see it, the whole life cycle of the butterfly is pretty metamorphoriffic.
G1 lives 2-6 weeks and lays eggs
G2 hatches in May and June
G3 hatches July and August
Generations 1,2 and 3 are all meandering SWerly from Canada
G4 hatches September and October and migrates to Mexico if they begin E of the Rockies or to the Pacific Grove area of California if they bin W of the Rockies. In California they winter over in the eucalyptus trees ... Oyamel fir trees are their home in Mexico.
So three generations of southern fliers and one generation of northern fliers per year.

Two reason are given for their migration ... Which I see as really only one reason. The two cited are; can't withstand cold, and larval food plants. It seems obvious to me that both are "weather" related. Every thing I've seen or read on this migration makes a big deal out of the mystery of how these guys get from point a to point b. I must be missing the magic somewhere ... I'm certain that I must be. To me it just seems obvious they are seeking the right kind of weather. Nova talked about them landing and sitting during cold snaps. These guys are not IMC fliers either. A ton of people spend the winter in South Texas ... Fleeing the cold, then they return home when the weather is to their liking. Sure looks like the butterflies were ahead of the trend. Maybe they find their way back to their spot in Canada by chasing their food source ... The tropical heat gets pretty inhospitable ... I personally am not buying the magnetic nav system idea ... I think they are looking for their next meal ... There must be a reason when generation four has a longevity advantage. I think it's weather and weathers impact on the groceries and other life support.
There are people who are dedicated to butterfly research ... I'll be looking at this topic more. There was a group who moved a batch of butterflies from Kansas to Washington DC for a launch ... Initially, the butterflies started heading South, but after a couple of days they corrected their course for Mexico. Ummm ... I personally like Lindor Truffles ... guess what ... I know who does and who does not stock them ... I know where they are sold by the 8.5oz package and where they are sold individually wrapped. It doesn't seem miraculous to me that the DC butterflies didn't track over open water. Just saying.

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