Butterflies in Central Texas

Butterflies are in the air for spring,  you just can’t have spring without butterflies.    As the winter weather fades away, the sun begins to warm the earth and our gardens begin to grow.   Mother nature issues a you are refreshed  message as she brings out the butterflies !   Their migration begins.   We take our winter coats and pack them up in the  excitement of spring’s arrival.  We put away our heavy curtains and open our windows to allow the fresh air and sunshine to come in.   For garden enthusiasts our daily routine changes as we spring forward to take action and  welcome in the season .  We turn our garden beds and amend the soil to power it up !  We think about what we want to accomplish by having a garden.  Do we want to grow fruits and vegetables ?  Do we want to attract hummingbirds or butterflies ?   Do we want to provide resources for wildlife ?   Do we want to grow flowers, shrubs,  trees or a little bit of it all ?

We create our own gardens and observe the growth of wildflowers springing up all around us.  All the while butterflies are moving on their migration path taking nourishment where ever they can find it.  The choices we make can increase our possibilities of having butterflies drop by to visit our gardens.  I like to always include Lantana in my garden because it is a hardy plant that loves the sunshine, can take the heat of summer and the butterflies love it.   I have learned to enjoy planting flowers by seeds rather than buying annual starter plants to add color to my garden.   I like Zinnias because the seed sprouts pretty quickly and the plants grow about 2 feet tall and produce flowers of many colors .   I plant Marigolds around my garden beds to help keep out the aphids.   I love the smell of Marigolds if it was made into a perfume I would wear it !    One spring not to long ago I tried a new seed packet called the “Sensation Mix” of Cosmos,  I absolutely love it !  The butterflies do too !  It comes with the seeds for three different colors of flowers;  white, light pink and hot pink .   I learned from trying this seed packet that it grows as easily as Zinnias do but the plant itself is quite dainty with thin wispy green leaves and a tall stem that holds up the daisy shaped, brightly colored flowers.  Try it you’ll like it !

When the season changes to summer the existence  of the butterfly in our lives continues to show us  how delicate life can be.  The summer heat can be brutal yet there is this delicate little creature soaring through the air just as if the cooler weather of spring was still in tact.  Amazing.  Our activities change from planting to maintaining our gardens.   We set up our watering systems, make any hose repairs we might need and let the timers do their job.  We send our children to summer camps, we take summer vacations ,  go hiking down a forest trail or have picnics in the park .  No matter where we go or what we do we will see butterflies fly right by us.   They tirelessly pursue the road ahead making it look easy and worthwhile to persist in moving forward on their migration path.    With our own plans to live the best life possible and create some memories for our children during summer we drink more water to carry on despite the blazing heat of summer.  Butterflies get their liquids from the nectar of flowers.  They also drink water from shallow wet spaces on the ground whether it be the edge of a mud puddle or a shallow dish with a handful of sand in it that is wet.

Come September in walks autumn with cooler temperatures and shorter periods of daylight.   Butterflies  will still be migrating when  we send our children off to school with their new backpacks and lunch boxes.   One autumn morning  I noticed a butterfly outside my office window sitting on the windowsill.   I admired it’s beauty and recognized it as a Monarch butterfly.   When I was leaving for the day I saw  it was still there !  Thinking it was in distress  I slipped a sheet of paper under it’s tiny body to pick it up and took it home with me in a box.   I made a terrarium for it with a large clear plastic container and provide it with a few fresh flowers from my garden .  I placed a flat lid from an empty jar with dirt damped with water inside my homemade terrarium.   With the butterfly all settled in for the night I hoped it would get a good night’s sleep.   In the morning  I was delighted it was still   alive !   By November butterflies will be at their roosting sites.  Monarchs go deep into Mexico to spend their winter.    Being in Texas I thought this butterfly still had a long way to go.  I took it outside and placed it as high as I could reach on the leaf of a tree.   I wished it good luck on it’s journey and walked away. I turned around one last time to see it and it took flight into the air and flew away !                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Here are some of the butterflies from my yard.  Enjoy !