I’ve been chasing butterflies with my camera — actually, there was just one black swallowtail butterfly. I saw the first one of the season today, and it’s September 5. What happened to the rest? I’ve seen one monarch, a handful of yellows and possible even a zebra butterfly. I spotted dozens more last year in the neighborhood by this time.
Why does this matter? Butterflies are among that essential group of animals called pollinators, necessary to transfer pollen to fertilize nearly 80 percent of our food crops. Some, like bees, are disappearing at a rapid rate. Without pollinators, there wouldn’t be much to eat.
I’ve planted enough flowers for a 24-course butterfly banquet. I’ve got butterfly bush, butterfly weed, stonecrop, coneflowers of all kinds, asters, zinnias, phlox…….yum, yum. When I finally spotted a black swallowtail today, he or she flitted about the weed-whacked vegetation on the golf course — no nectar flowers there. While just on my side of the fence, I had the Country Buffet awaiting….What’s the deal?
I did follow the progress of about two dozen black swallowtail caterpillars on my bronze fennel (a member of the parsley family) throughout the summer — evidence that butterflies did flutter in and lay eggs, probably while I was sitting at my computer complaining online to fellow “butterfly nerd” friends that there weren’t any butterflies.
I’m heading soon to the Pollination Garden open house at the University of Kansas. I’ll find out what’s going on with butterflies this year and let you know. To learn more, go to the links to Pollinator Partnership and Monarch Watch on my blogroll.