Bonding with monarchs day after storm.
Bonding with monarchs day after storm.

Today Happy Tonics is coordinating a National  butterfly count on Facebook which has been upgraded to an International Butterfly Count. We have confirmed butterfly friends as far away as Nottingham, England. Butterfly enthusiasts in several states in North America are participating also.

I had planned to orchastrate the count from our two habitats in Shell Lake, Wisconsin (WI), USA. However a powerful tornado (documented in Solan Springs – 20 miles from Minong on Hwy. 53) literally came crashing through the village of Minong, WI on July 1. It took down all the old red pine and hardwood trees on the property.  I am in the middle of a natural disaster on my 1/2 acre that once stood proud with aged trees of red pine and Chinese elms.

The good news is the butterflies were not harmed. They have been fluttering around the property for days now. Today I will honor the butterfly count from the property where I live. This is a healing therapy for me to think about what survives in Climate Change. I speak about violent storms because I believe they are a proven perdiction of scientists. One has to adapt. I feel as en envirmental educator I am walking the talk. I am drafting the start of this blog later and you will be able to read it as I process my own personal experience.

Monarch caterpillar on milkweed the day after severe storm slammed into Minong, WI.
Monarch caterpillar on milkweed the day after severe storm slammed into Minong, WI, July 2, 2011.

On July 2, one day after the storm I started looking on the milkweed to see if there was monarch life. Take a look at this! I felt so elated to know the the next generation of monarchs were alive and well and eating milkweed leaves. I should name this caterpillar “Survivor.” How did they withstand 90 mph winds? It boggles the mind.

For now, take the day off if you are celebrating America’s Independance Day. The butterfly count will confirm how pollinators do in severe weather conditions at least from this part of the country. I heard on the radio this morning that el nino or la nina seasons can bring severe weather also.

Mary Ellen Ryall reporting from Minong, WI, USA – National Butterfly Count.

July 4, 2011 – 10:30 a.m. Copper butterfly seen on valerian flowers. It was sunny and breezye today. Butterfly was on north side of property and in vegetable garden. 11:30 am. Europen skipper was on the the south side enjoying the native grass as a …resting place. I noted some extra delights also. A mother robin was teaching her fledging to dig for worms. She was seen feeding the baby. Fledgling was following her around on the front property. Back property saw a mother robin teaching her baby about the bird bath. Quickly I went to fill it up.
I ate Juneberry, fresh swiss chard, strawberry tomatoes growing organically in my gardens.   1 p.m. Monarch butterfly seen flying around on front propertty. Winds picking up. Then a saw a wren picking up twigs and the bird has started building a next in one of the wren houses.   3:30 p.m. Monarch was flying by front property.
Weather: 84.7 degrees F, winds 5.8 mph. Day is sunny and clear.
Lisa M. Johnson reports from Milwaukee, WI, “I did the butterfly count anyway.  My count was zero.  I picked the sleepy intersection in front of my house, which has a lot of prarie flowers and a little stream nearby.  I would be willing to do it another time.  It may have been too hot for a sensible butterfly to be out and about.”
Ethel Peoples of Shell Lake, WI states, “I saw one monarch butterfly by my carport.”
OK butterfly friends. Hope to see your reports here shortly. Thank you for your efforts on behalf of the butterflies. They do need our love and help.

Be well insectamonarca friends where ever you are.


  1. So sorry for the tornado hitting you…I haven’t logged on in awhile, but did the butterfly count anyway. My count was zero. I picked the sleepy intersection in front of my house, which has a lot of prarie flowers and a little stream nearby. I would be willing to do it another time. It may have been too hot for a sensible butterfly to be out and about.


    1. Thanks Lisa. I think you will be amazed how the butterflies survived a possible tornado with high winds and wild rains that hit Minong on July 1. Read the results I just posted. I feel blessed the butterlfies came to gladden my heart. Thank for your your kind thoughts. We will explore this count option again perhaps in the end of summer and early fall migration.


  2. Good Morning! I wanted to make sure and stop in to let you know I saw my first Monarch late yesterday afternoon! I live in Beloit, Wisconsin and do not see many Monarch’s at all anymore, or at least in my immediate area? I managed to save a few Milkweed plants that my neighbor hasn’t cut down when mowing but no caterpillar sightings yet. It would seem this butterfly I saw was just flying through, but I still hold out hope. 🙂 I’ve many small white cabbage butterflies, swallowtail butterfly and plenty of dragonfly, as well as hummingbird which I leave nectar out for, and lots of other birds, but the Monarch remains elusive…living in the city the way that I do must account for much of that as everyone cuts down the milkweed or sprays. I have tried convincing my neighbors not to use chemicals on their lawns and mine is the only one overgrown on the fencelines with weeds of all kinds but the neighbors won’t hear of it. It’s sad that you cannot change the mindset of these folks….
    So sorry to hear about your Standing Tall Ones! However I am happy you are safe and sound!
    Blessings Abundant to You!


    1. Good evening Akasa, I am so happy you got to see your first monarch this season. We are seeing lots in Minong at the private habitat and I hope to see lots more in Shell Lake tomorrow. There were so many at the Wild Butterfly Habitat that we have in Shell Lake also. We were out there Monday and gathered wild bergamot and hazelnuts and putting up native plant identification stakes. I am so pround of you for trying to educate your neighbors about insecticides. Often our words fall on deaf ears. It reminds me of Noah’s ark. People stood and laughed at Noah for building the ark on ground far from water. What many folks do not realize is that we are in a time of transition as Mother Earth goes through a great cleansing. How wondersul that you are gardening in the city. I too have done city gardening from a balcony and from a community garden in the neighborhood in Washington, DC. I am happy to hear that the cabbage white is flying around which I hope isn’t eating cabbage plants like it did mine. We too are seeing lots of Canada yellow swallowtail this year and it is a good sign that at least this butterfly is rebounding. I planted lots of dill in the hopes that the swallowtail will leave eggs on the plant. So far it hasn’t. Miigwetch (thank you) for letting me know about the monarch health in Beloit. The dragonflies are out in record numbers this summer. It could be because of all the rain. Thank you for your kind words about the Standing Tall Ones. I am hoping to bring them into house as knotty pine board instead of sending off to a sawmill to be cut as pulp. I believe they need a more respectful journey for an other cycle of their beautiful lives. Namaste, Mary Ellen


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