Saturday, August 18, 2007

Monarchs flying through

Seeing more butterflies now is encouraging after so many weeks of none to few. The monarchs are one of the signs that fall is coming, a welcome thought in these weeks of upper 90° weather, parched earth, drooping plants, and no rain in sight.

Monarchs spend the winter in north-central Mexico and the fall and spring migration usually comes through South Carolina. The last temperate zone generation of adults triggered by the short days and cooler temperatures are the ones that make the final flight, the successive generations fueled by the cycles from adult to egg, caterpillar, and chrysalis, all on milkweed. Their visits to nectar-rich flowers are fun to watch, especially in light of the remarkable migration that occurs. Here was a monarch visiting a zinna -- a great butterfly flower because of easy perching and abundant nectar.

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