Friday, November 2, 2012

Monarch Butterfly Migration and Day of the Dead

Monarch butterflies are now beginning to reach their migration destination - the overwintering sites near Mexico City and also along the coast of California. Their arrival in Mexico coincides with the celebration of the Day of the Dead, or  Día de los Muertos, a time of festivity honoring loved ones who have already left us. Our celebration of Halloween this week brought this hallmark to life in a very different way for my family.

Queens clustering at night 10-7-12
Earlier we were enjoying the many butterflies in our yard this Fall. Our summer rains brought a large number of queens, gulf fritillaries, sulphurs, swallowtails and other butterflies to enjoy.

Male monarch visiting tithonia today
Then, of course, the monarchs came and made their presence known. And we protected a few of their eggs from predators, watched the caterpillars grow, then tagged them when they emerged from their chrysalis to send them on their way to join other monarchs on their migration.

Last week I was contacted by the Chandler edition of the Arizona Republic about the monarch butterflies visiting my yard. It was featured in last Saturday's paper and on-line this week. Then Halloween arrived.

The trick-or-treaters were late. I was wondering if they would come. After handing out treats at the door, one mother came and asked me about the "Monarch Waystation" sign in my front yard. She had seen an article in the paper about monarchs in Chandler and her family had a long love affair with monarchs that spanned generations. And so I met Sarah, a neighbor also in love with monarchs, who lives just a few blocks away. I can't imagine how many times Bob and I walked right passed her house with our dog. Her story touched my heart (you can read it yourself, here.) I'm looking forward to her family visiting soon. I'm also starting some milkweed to share so Sarah can draw monarchs to her yard, too.
A frayed but hardy monarch that has hung out in the yard for several weeks.