Butterfly Visitors

Western Tiger Swallowtail on our lilacs (March 29, 2009)
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Last Saturday, I noticed that there was a lot of fluttering going on around the garden. Everywhere I turned it seemed I saw a butterfly. By Sunday, the skies were full of butterflies. When we walked out to our car after church, there were butterflies everywhere we looked. They were all flying with a purpose instead of milling about. They were all headed north. At first I thought they were Monarch butterflies because I didn't know of any other butterfly that migrated. But they weren't big enough to be Monarchs.

On the drive home we continued to see hundreds of butterflies all headed north. By the time we got home I knew I needed to get my camera and try to photograph one. As I headed inside I glanced at our lilac bush and saw at least two butterflies on it getting a sip.

After changing out of my Sunday dress, I went out and camped out under the lilac bushes. I had to wait a while and be very still. The butterflies continued to fly north over our garden. Finally, one lighted on the lilac so I could get a shot.

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These definitely weren't Monarch butterflies. With the photo I was able to identify them. Another migrating butterfly that I didn't know about is the American Painted Lady butterfly and these butterflies are a variety called the West Coast Lady butterfly.

In my waiting for one of the migratory butterflies to light on a blossom, I was delighted to have a Western Tiger Swallowtail come down for a snack (see photo at beginning of post). They are my favorite butterfly visitor in our garden. I find their caterpillars in our fennel all the time and get excited when I do because I know it will be a gorgeous butterfly someday.

As I've observed the butterflies over this week, I've been interested in the difference between the "attitudes" of the two types of butterflies. The West Coast Lady butterflies are definitely on a mission. They aren't easily distracted out of flight even by the yummiest of flowers. But the Western Tiger Swallowtail is a happy-go-lucky local butterfly. It flits from blossom to blossom in a leisurely way as if it hasn't a care in the world.

Kinda like people isn't it? Which butterfly are you more like--the West Coast Lady or the Western Tiger Swallowtail?
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  1. Is it possible to get a cross-breed butterfly? I don't think you can but if you could, i would probably be a bit of both! LOL

    Both such beautiful butterflies! Mum and I wish that our buddleia and other plants were mature so that we could see more butterflies and bees. Unfortunately (or maybe not), we get to wait and see the plants, bushes, shrubs and trees grow first. We have had a few bees and I have seen a Green-veined White butterfly but maybe we'll have more in the coming weeks...we'll see.

    I find it fascinating sitting back and watching how all sorts of different animals, birds and bugs go about their days. I did it when I had the kittens and I would sit and watch how their mums interacted with them and each time I had to hand raise a litter, I put that knowledge to good use. It just goes to show that books aren't the only way of learning!

    Good job with getting those photos! One of my favourite butterflies here is the Peacock butterfly. I remember as a child I caught one in a neighbour's garden and it left an imprint on the palm of my hand. Very pretty butterflies.

    Hope everyone is well, hugs from Meg and cats xxx

  2. Oh, I think it's a pretty safe bet that I'm a Swallowtail. I'm so easily distracted! Yup, I'm a Flitter.

  3. Oh, I do love these photos! Back in the early 90s we had a swarm of these American Painted Lady butterflies come through Palmdale. It was a miracle as the local bee population had severe problems and the local fruit crops were at risk without the necessary pollinators. We had clouds of them that one year. They were so beautiful.
    Thank you for this fun memory.
    Love you,

  4. What a joy to see not only the lilacs but the gorgeous butterfly photos.

    There's no chance of that around here yet -- we've still got lots of snow to melt. Our early-bird Canada Geese are wondering what's up as they land on ice-covered lakes!

    So thanks for glimpses of what we'll see in about two months from now (oi!)

  5. Lilacs. You know I love lilacs.

  6. Yeah, I'm a cross breed. I have moved around so much in my life I can't quite say I'm local to anywhere. But I do get quite distracted by yumminess in many forms.

  7. My kinders would be going NUTS seeing those! Still very few bugs around here. And I must say, that's okay, but I do miss the nice wildlife. Oh, and if they were here I would be enjoying them too and hope that they didn't swoop at me...creeps me out!

  8. Beuatiful butterflies. It's always so nice to see them. They are such delicate, gorgeous little creatures.


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