Monthly Archives: October 2015

October 19, 2015

When did we notice we weren’t noticing Monarchs any more?  At last! … yesterday Pat and I were returning to El Potrero over the uplands of our Cascabel Pasture and revelling in the splendor of this year’s range with thunderstorms round about the east and south horizons, when suddenly my attention was focussed away from getting toasted by a bolt of lightning to a single Monarch Buttefly sitting out on the tip of a Palo Verde branch.  Like many of us, I grew up with Monarchs: in mid 20th century they were as ubiquitous as white bread, so much so that a kid butterfly collector couldn’t be bothered with chasing, preparing and mounting one or giving one space in a display frame.  For Monarchs, all you had to do was look outside.  Who’d ever have thought that in our lifetime the taken-for-granted creature would become poster-bug of the environmentalist set?  Yet even I, who test for faddishness every threatened and endangered alarm that “trends”, was stopped in my and Loompy’s tracks by the shimmering and orange and black and leaded-glass window wings of old friend Monarch.  “Where have the decades gone?”, I asked him.  While I’ve watched and watched and watched over the summers and autumns, I was never able to turn any of our common Queen Butterflies into this now-charismatic Monarch.  I had forgotten how startlingly different the two species look one from the other, until yesterday when even from a good distance this butterfly was so obviously neither a Queen nor a Viceroy but yes, a Monarch.  It sailed off, looking for more nectar, which it sure won’t be having any hard time finding, the range is so in bloom and has been straight through from those first wildflowers of February to now even in October and likely on into November.  This seems to be another Spring for a number of those same earlier species!  I don’t see milkweeds in those uplands, however, though there is a boom in climbing Sarcostemma below in the valley bottoms for them.  We’re still riding Nimby and Loompy through gardens and seemingly arranged displays of pink Fairy Duster, purple, yellow, or blue “composites” in near overwhelming array, and even Ocotillo and desert Sumac coming back into flower.  It just fills one with wonder.