It’s that time again. The kids are going back to school, the football teams are on the fields and the butterflies are coming. What? That’s right. Fall is butterfly season. It is the most misunderstood season of all outdoor seasons. Most folks think spring…new flowers…butterflies. But take a look around, while there are butterflies during the spring, we see the most butterflies in the fall. This is when all of the perennials are in their full flowering glory and nectar is in the air. Well, actually it isn’t in the air, but there is plenty to go around. And it is the time when the almighty monarch starts its long, awe-inspiring journey south. As a gardener and butterfly lover, this is a favorite time of the year. It’s hot, yes, but the black-eyed Susans and purple coneflowers are doing their thing and the butterflies are a comin!
Butterflies are a curious creature. More so it is our response to butterflies that is curious. Butterflies are insects. So are beetles, flies, ants, grasshoppers, and bees. But we don’t have the same reaction to these insects as we do to butterflies. Butterflies are inspiration for art, poems, festivals, legends and myths. You sure don’t see that kind of love extended to the poor fly. Which, by the way, is the most important insect for pollinating the cocoa tree. Yelp, flies and chocolate…
“A tiny fly no bigger than the head of a pin is responsible for the world’s supply of chocolate.”
—Allen Young, a leading cacao expert
Why do we love the butterfly so? In my former life, I was a butterfly farmer. (see Butterfly Farm!) Along with raising butterflies commercially, we raised awareness. We hosted hundreds of school children and their families throughout the year, teaching them about butterflies. And every man, woman, and child that entered the butterfly house fell in love. Once they knew how to spot an egg, they loved butterfly eggs. And when they took the time to look carefully, they loved those caterpillars, too. But mostly they loved that beautiful winged creature that flitted carelessly about from flower to flower and occasionally landed on their shoulder.
So why are we so fascinated by this insect? Maybe it is the wing colors and the patterns that range from the mundane to the brilliant. Or their metaphorical and symbolic nature. The fact that they love the same flowers that we love or that they are just a tiny bit mysterious.
Join me this fall as we study the butterfly. We’ll explore its importance in our ecosystem, how you can attract them to your garden, and some fun and interesting facts.
All pictures for this post were taken on my butterfly farm in Texas by Valerie Bugh. Thank you Val!