Posted by: cindydyer | March 25, 2012

Butterfly Corner

by Mary Ellen Ryall

MARCH 8, 2012—Estela Romero, local reporter in Angangueo, Michoacan, Mexico, went to the Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary with monarch expert, Dr. Lincoln Brower from Sweet Briar College, Virginia. Estela has been watching the monarchs for weeks and thinks they are more active. She saw many butterflies flitting about instead of hibernating on trees. The scientist and his guide went to Chincua sanctuary. Further up the mountain, last year’s flood and mud slide damage could be seen.

Dr. Brower expressed his concern about how dry the Mexican forest is this year. In winter 2010, Monarch butterfly populations endured a terrible flood in the mountains where the sanctuary is located. This year, the soil is baked dry and unstable because there are fewer trees to stabilize the mountains. It is so dry that Dr. Brower is concerned that the butterflies may not have sufficient moisture, which they use for respiration. Last fall Texas suffered a terrible drought. The state suffered massive fires. Texas is the gateway to and from Mexico for the butterfly. Lack of liquid and plant nectar in Texas may play a major role on the monarch butterfly migration 2012. Monarch butterfly on ‘Zowie’ Zinnia © Cindy Dyer

Dr. Brower is concerned that now the monarchs may not have enough lipids to make the journey north this spring. Yes, many will make it, but what about the majority of the migration? Deforestation continues in Mexico. There are fewer Oyamel fir trees in the Mexican forest. Fewer trees mean fewer winter habitat for the monarch butterfly. The butterfly has been around since the time of the dinosaurs. How could a butterfly, which has survived throughout history, be so impacted by our material world and climate change in such a short time? We will follow the migration north to keep you posted.

The Monarch Butterfly Habitat in Shell Lake has some good news. Volunteer staff discovered that black swallowtail caterpillars and adult butterflies were seen in Shall Lake, in the summer of 2011. With this news, Happy Tonics plans to include host plants for the butterfly. We want to welcome this species to the habitat.

MARCH 24—I did an author interview with Morgen Bailey of Northhampton, United Kingdom. The interview will go live on March 24. Morgan interviews published authors and publishers. My book, My Name is Butterfly, was published by Salt of the Earth Press in 2011. The in-depth interview will be posted at You can purchase the book through Amazon here.

I am thrilled to have my book talked about in England and beyond the big waters. Happy Tonics has published butterfly articles in the UK in the Butterfly Observer, published by the Cornwall Butterfly Conservation.

MARCH 29—I will be in Washington, D.C. during the first week in April. While there, I will attend Cindy Dyer’s one woman photography exhibit at Green Spring Gardens, in Alexandria, VA. Cindy is VP of Marketing for Happy Tonics. Check out her exquisite botanical photography at or and visit her blog at

I am doing a book tour in Washington, D.C., Southern Maryland in Calvert and St. Mary’s County, and in Northern Virginia. I have been invited to speak at Meet the Author events. It will be good to see my old stomping grounds again.


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