Posted by: cindydyer | July 15, 2009

Butterfly Corner 15 July 2009

CheekwoodMonarchRyall, M.E. (15 July 2009)
Butterfly Corner. Washburn County Register, p. 21.

by Mary Ellen Ryall

Winds Challenge Monarch Butterfly: Wind Gusts were at 21 mph on Monday at the Monarch Butterfly Habitat. We noticed a monarch being whipped across the sky by a strong wind. The monarch crossed Route 63 where it was caught by an updraft. Then the butterfly decided to turn back to the Monarch Butterfly Habitat side of the road. The monarch then sought out pine trees near the habitat where it took refuge. By the way, the monarch navigates by roads and rivers. Monarchs have the weight of a maple leaf. How a monarch knows when to flutter for cover is a mystery.

The Butterfly Educational Store: Sophia Belisle, and her mother Liza Knutson, along with a young friend Jeremiah Melton, “Bullfrog,” visited Happy Tonics on Monday. They brought what appeared to be a variegated fritillary caterpillar for the staff to identify. We scoured the butterfly books and based on the host plant information, we visited a near neighborhood garden and harvested violet leaves for the caterpillar. Unfortunately, the caterpillar didn’t eat and was beyond rescuing. Arda May stopped in on Thursday to ask about another butterfly species. We identified her butterfly as the white admiral. It looks somewhat like a black swallowtail but doesn’t have tails nor is it quite as big.

Knapweed Patrol: Joy Amparo and Nathan Kast have diligently been working on the invasive species in the habitat. Area three where the memory tree grove is located is presently free of the invasive species. There is enough open ground now to reseed this area in the fall.

Wood Chip Path Report: Nathan and Joy were seen yesterday in area one pulling knapweed and weeds from the path. Joy was on her knees and Nate was sitting on an upside down bucket. This work is hard on the back. It seems that just as soon as they get ahead in one area such as pulling knapweed, the next challenge crops up. But then again when they looked up, they saw the reason why they work so hard. Along came a monarch.

Butterfly and Native Plant Identification Class: On June 11, seven people attended the class. Within area one of the habitat, we identified several alien, native, and several host plants for moths and butterflies. We learned about the medicinal properties of plants also. Common mullein leaves can be dried and used as a tea for respiratory problems and for influenza viruses. Early settlers put the soft dried leaves in their shoes. Evening primrose is an alien and host plant for the sphinx moth. The flowers bloom at night and the moth is often confused as a hummingbird because it flies so fast. The plant contains gamma-linolenic acid. This is essential fatty oil contained in vegetable oil. Goats beard is an alien plant and ornamental. The seed pods can be sprayed with hairspray and brought inside for decoration. Hoary Alyssum, an alien is a host plant for the white cabbage caterpillar that turns into a butterfly. This butterfly can cause damage to cabbage family crops but not to a restored remnant prairie. Brown-eyed Susan also known as black-eyed Susan, is a native plant and host plant of the silvery checkerspot. The caterpillar hides in the petals around the eyes of the plant. Goldfinches enjoy the seeds. We expect that the Monarch Butterfly Habitat will also attract birds.

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