Hello Friends and Family,

Link to this year's index by clicking here.

They're Back!

Butterflies Nestled amid the red buttes of Papago Park in Phoenix, the Desert Botanical Garden twice yearly hosts living butterflies. In the spring, they exhibit native Arizona species and in the fall, beautiful Monarch butterflies. I have shared photos of both before, but I cannot help myself — I love to visit both times of the year and take new photos — I hope you will tolerate my indulgence. If not, just DELETE this message.

Butterfly I think that Monarchs are among the most beautiful butterflies in the world. The above photo reminds me of the sight at Santa Cruz's Natural Bridges State Park where thousands of Monarch butterflies winter in the Eucalyptus trees. During the typical morning marine cloud layer, they close their wings and huddle for warmth. Once the sun comes out and warms the butterflies, they open their wings and infuse the trees with the brilliant orange of the top side of their wings.

Butterfly They have no teeth and use an elongated proboscis to obtain nectar from the flowers. It's sort like sucking a straw for your sustenance.

Butterfly This one looked like he was hungry and climbing the ladder for a series of flowers. No doubt, he's hoping no one else has already exhausted the nectar.

Butterfly I loved how the light shone through the wings in this photo. We sometimes forget how delicate they are — but this shot makes it clear.

ButterflyOf course, one of the most amazing aspects of these delicate insects in the long migrations. There are groups of Monarchs in various countries around the world, each with its own migratory pattern. In North American, there is a large population that winters along the California coast and summers in the Northwest US and Western Canada — plus another population that winters in Mexico and summers in the mid-West. The latter migrates over Arizona so we may see a few Monarchs in the wild — but only for a short time twice each year.

Butterflies The length of the migrations exceeds the normal life span of most Monarchs. Thus no Monarch ever makes the round trip. Mother Nature amazes us with some, as yet unknown, mechanism for the children and grandchildren of the migrating butterflies to retrace their ancestor's flights.

Butterfly Monarchs apparently are poisonous or distasteful to birds and other predators — their bright coloration advertises this fact. In fact there are other butterflies that mimic the coloration to get a free pass from those same predators.

Butterfly The exhibit is open now until November 2 from 9:30 AM to 5:00 PM. Admission is $3 plus the normal admission charge for the Desert Botanical Garden. I have some free tickets that will admit you to both the garden and the butterfly exhibit. If you are interested, please let me know.

 Life is good.

 B. David