Here’s a bright scene for a cold winter day. An Orange Sulphur butterfly sips nectar from a sunflower in a field in September. The field was mowed a few weeks later, and the remaining short stubble is brown and lifeless, showing no sign of the lively community of insects, mammals, amphibians, reptiles and birds that once lived there. A “for sale” is planted in the center.
I emailed several photographs of yellow butterflies to Chip Taylor, director of Monarch Watch at the University of Kansas. Any yellow butterfly around here I’ve been calling a Cloudless Sulphur. Dr. Taylor says this butterfly is an Orange Sulphur (Colias eurytheme.)
“The butterfly looks like a female – males have solid and females spotted margins,” he wrote.
Dr. Taylor identified the other insect as a Soldier beetle, which is highly prized by gardeners because it eats pest insects, such as aphids and grasshopper eggs. It’s also a pollinator. Pollinators are essential to our food supply, but there are fewer and fewer places for them to live. Thousands of acres are lost daily to development.
Monarch Watch is dedicated to education about and the conservation and research of Monarch butterflies and other pollinators.