Tag Archives: butterflies

Quote of the Week #80

FLYAWAY-2085I haven’t met many people who don’t enjoy butterflies. After all, what’s not to like? They are beautifully colored, fly gracefully, don’t kill things, have amazing life cycles and just generally bring a smile to your soul when you see one.

They start out as a tiny egg, hatch out, then eat, eat, eat, molt several times, make a chrysalis, and then, some days later, transform into a lovely butterfly–a sure symbol of something we all can use–HOPE.

So, this week’s quote:

Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, she became a butterfly.

If you live locally to western North Carolina, please come out and join me THIS TUEDAY (April 18th) night at 7:30 for my first program –about butterflies and moths–with my new Meetup group, called Share Nature More. To learn more, or to sign up, click here.

If you don’t live locally I’m sorry I will miss you! You can click these links to see some amazing butterfly transformations (these will knock your socks off! )-a monarch here or a red-spotted purple here, or the emergence of a variegated fritillary here. Or if you want, check out 10 things you might not know about butterflies.

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Weekly Puzzler Answer #79

These big, iridescent eye spots can be found on one of our North American butterflies, called a Common Buckeye. This butterfly, with a wingspan of 39-68mm, is found throughout most of the United States. When it closes its wings, it is not nearly as striking. Have you seen this butterfly?

Buckeyes prefer open areas with low vegetation and a variety of flowers where they can get nectar. They also need bare earth where they perch to attract mates.

If you want to attract Buckeyes to your yard, try planting snapdragon, false foxglove, plantain, or toad-flax.

Here are some pictures of our Common Buckeye butterfly.

Wings covered with dew!A Buckeye resting on the groundA Buckeye sunning itself in the morningWhat beautiful eye spots!Common BuckeyeSide view of a Buckeye

Check out the new PUZZLER here. 

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Weekly Puzzler #79

Did you get to spend a lot of time outside this summer? Have you seen many of our lovely butterflies and moths?

I have been seeing this member of Lepidoptera a lot lately. Do you recognize this one? Click HERE to see if your guess was correct!

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Monarch Day at The NC Arboretum!

Milkweed used to grow everywhere! But now, not so much.

Milkweed used to grow everywhere! But now, not so much.

In recent weeks some of my readers have expressed interest in planting Milkweed in their yards to help the Monarch butterflies. As you know, the caterpillars of our beloved orange and black butterflies require the leaves of this plant. 

The North Carolina Arboretum is having a Monarch Day on Saturday, September 19th. I will not be in town but would invite any of my local readers to go, especially if you have interest in purchasing and growing Milkweed, or learning more about this lovely butterfly and its lifecycle. The Arboretum will be selling plants all day and will have events for adults as well as children. Click here to see the schedule.

Happy Wednesday to you all!

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10 Things You May Not Know about Butterflies

So you see them all summer–those colorful insects with the gorgeous wings that flutter around your yard and garden. What do you know about these lovely creatures?

Here are 10 things that may surprise you.

butter--3-21. Butterflies taste with their feet! When they touch nectar, they automatically uncoil their long tongue. And speaking of their feet–Have you ever had a butterfly crawl on you? They have prickly feet that can cling to many surfaces, including your skin! Each foot has claws that allow it a strong grip. This lets them stay in place during windy days or when it’s raining.

Their claws are sharp!

Their claws are sharp!


Check out the proboscis!

2. Their long tongue can coil in and out and is called a proboscis. Many people mispronounce this word! The c at the end is silent, so it is said like this: pro ba sis. (If you’d like, hear it here) They use their long proboscis to drink sweet nectar from flowers.

butter-20943. When they emerge from their chrysalis (see that HERE!) their proboscis is in two pieces and must be zipped together! If they don’t accomplish this successfully, they will not be able to drink nectar and will die of starvation. If you watch one emerge, you will see butterfly winding and unwinding the proboscis as it does this.

butter--44. A butterfly’s wings are covered with thousands of tiny scales, which is why their Greek name is Lepidoptera. This means “scale-wing.” If you’ve ever touched a butterfly and had a powder on your fingers afterward, this is why. Some of the scales rubbed off onto your fingers! Butterflies lose scales all the time and will still be able to fly without all of their scales.(Hence, it is a myth that a butterfly will not be able to fly if you touch its wings.)

5. Lepidoptera consists of both butterflies AND moths. But there are MANY, MANY more moths! More than 90% of Lepidoptera are Moths!

Lots more moths--like this Luna--than butterflies.

Lots more moths–like this Luna–than butterflies.

6. The first meal most butterflies eat is their egg shell. When they hatch out, they are tiny. They consume their egg before starting to feed on leaves. Some caterpillars are generalists, eating many kinds of leaves and some, like the Monarch are very specific, eating only ONE kind of leaf. This is one of the reasons why the Monarchs are in such decline–it would be so much better if they weren’t so fussy!

7. A butterfly uses its antennae for touch and smell. Butterfly antennae have knobs or hooks (think of a crochet needle) at the ends unlike moth antennae, which are feathery or filamentous.


8. When a butterfly grows it is called molting and the stages between molts are called instars. Butterflies start their lives as eggs that become caterpillars. The caterpillars are EATING MACHINES. All they do is eat, molt and poop! For about two weeks until they are ready to molt for the last time into their chrysalis. A cocoon and a chrysalis are NOT the same thing! Butterflies make a chrysalis. They do this at their last molt. (Watch HERE!) Moths and other insects make a cocoon, which is a silky case spun by the insect larvae to protect them during the  pupal stage. Regardless of whether they emerge from a chrysalis or cocoon, they will look different than when they went in. This is called metamorphosis.

9. When a butterfly comes out of its chrysalis, it is said to eclose. (See this HERE!)Its wings are all scrunched up and it must hang for a while before it can dry out and fly. Their first flight is a bit clumsy! but eventually they get the hang of it and flutter off.

A Monarch egg

A Monarch egg

10. The females of most butterflies lay their eggs singly on a leaf. By doing this she is giving the larvae a chance to have the plant to themselves and not have to compete for leaves.

11. Butterflies can’t fly if the temperature is below 60 degrees F. Their body fluid –called hemolymph–under this temperate becomes too thick and won’t allow their flight muscles to work properly. This is why you’ll find them just hanging out on cool mornings, their wings sometimes covered in dew. The butterfly must wait for the sun to warm them up before flying is possible.butter-3-2

12. The poop of caterpillars (and other insects) is called Frass. Seeing Frass on a plant is a good hint that a caterpillar is nearby.

13. Butterflies have a short lifecycle, most living just 20-40 days.  Of course there are exceptions, some living just a couple of days and then, Monarchs, who, if they emerge at the end of the summer from their chrysalis, will MIGRATE! East of the Rocky mountains they migrate to Mexico. West of the Rocky Mountains, they head to some places along the coast of California.  (Read about Monarch migration HERE.)

butter--2-214. Butterflies can see ultraviolet light and are able to enjoy colors we don’t even see!

Yes, I know that was not 10!  But sometimes it is hard to know which ones to pick so I’ve just included them all! Hope you learned something today.

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Weekly Puzzler Answer #75

Check out this butterfly emerging from its chrysalis! An amazing moment for you to share with me. Did you guess this butterfly for last week’s puzzler?

I thought it was going to be a Viceroy, but as you can see, it was NOT orange and black when it emerged. But even so, WOW! If possible it was even more beautiful.

This is what a Viceroy looks like. Beautiful, right? It is a mimic of a Monarch–meaning in looking like a Monarch predators will avoid eating it since the bright orange and black signals they are distasteful. The Monarch IS distasteful, having eating the bitter Milkweed leaves before becoming a butterfly.


Here’s the next puzzler.

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Quote of the Week #33

I’d like to tell you a story as an introduction to this week’s quote. If you’ve been following my blog posts lately, you may know I have been talking about Monarch butterflies –their low numbers and the importance of their only food plant–Milkweed.

amonarchpair-1731So everyday that I go out in my car anywhere, I first must drive to the end of my road, 2.8 miles. Along the way I pass numerous meadows, some with horses, others filled with tall grasses or crops from local farmers. Around the bend and at the top of one small hill, on the right side, there is a field that slopes gently upwards and is FILLED WITH MILKWEED–3 different species! It is a glorious spot, always dancing with the wings of butterflies as they look for the sweet nectar of the orange and pink flowers.

This field is within a high-end, gated community with million dollar houses, but on the outskirts of where any people live and away from traffic. I have spent time there lately, photographing all of the treasures, from colorful butterflies to beetles, bugs and everything in between.

amonarchpair--2This field is an absolute GOLD MINE for the butterflies, including our beloved Monarchs!

But the Monarchs can’t talk of course so I decided to be their spokesperson. I decided to try to see who owns this field so I could ask if it would be at all possible to hold off on mowing it until late October, when all of the Monarchs have gone.

It wasn’t an easy or quick process and several people were involved, but in the end, I DID get to talk to the owner! And he seemed receptive to the idea of mowing later. He said he didn’t realize anyone cared about the field or the creatures there and now that he does, he will do his best to help out. !!

I am over the moon thrilled because this means I don’t have to be so worried about driving out one day and being heartbroken when I see a flattened field where all the Milkweed used to be. And all of the Monarchs and other butterflies will get to continue living there and I don’t have to be so desperate to find them all and “save them.”

And so, this week’s quotes:

“Life doesn’t require that we be the best, only that we try our best.”


“Every accomplishment starts with a decision to try.”


Sometimes when we think of something we’d like to do, we are stopped by the loud voices in our head saying, “That’s impossible! That won’t work! What are the chances!” Maybe next time you have one of those thoughts, you will remember this story and these quotes.

You’ll never know until you try!


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