Butterfly Dream Vision

Last night I had an uncanny dream. For years I have been working on behalf of the monarch butterfly, actually I do. My friend Sandy Stein and I were visiting what looked like a large vista that reached into the distance without end.  It appeared the land had once been used as a farm, but its relationship with the land went wrong. I somehow understood that the elder, in the dream, knew crops were in trouble in my home country because there were no pollinators.

monarchanna

monarchanna

The old gentleman that I really couldn’t visually see, stayed mostly in the background, but he was consciously  in my mind; I understood his intentions clearly. He knew of my work with the second largest group of pollinators in the world. The reverent elder was the owner of forests and fields that appeared to go on forever.  He made me to understand that 40 acres of land had been prepared for me and the pollinators.  I knew that he was giving me land for the butterflies. I was overcome, I could hardly believe my eyes, I felt so honored for my life’s work.

wild bergamot

wild bergamot

It was then, I felt him communicating, “I have admired you for being so tenacious on behalf of the monarch butterfly.”  He went on, “You have been teaching the people about the necessity of native habitat for the monarch and other pollinators. Many times you were all alone in your quest. I do know your dream and am giving this land to you for the butterflies.”

I was stunned when I realized  what he conveyed was real. I could look out into the distance and see the land was prepared for establishing a native pollinator habitat. I can’t tell you how honored and childlike I felt. I wanted to cry because someone really understood my heart and had made  it possible for me to have this  land for an  intended purpose.

When I asked,  “What will you do?”  He let me see vistas of forest that could be consciously and sustainably cut to grow more organic food for people and still have forests for wildlife and plants.

Realizing his truth, I could imagine that people might now listen and understand that we need to live in balance with nature. Could the time have come?

The dream was so beautiful that when I awoke I wondered if I had had a vision dream that gave me a glimpse into the afterlife.  I felt so blessed, humbled and longed to go to this place where I can live forever among the butterflies.

Swallowtail

Swallowtail

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Blog/Radio talk Talkupy with Mary Ellen Ryall Butterflies

Monarch butterflies are being hit on all sides these days. Loss of habitat, climate change andnatural disasters are taking their toll on these and other beautiful pollinators. Thankfully, there are people watching out for them. Talkupy with Annie Lindstrom welcomes Mary Ellen Ryall, retiring Executive Director of Happy Tonics Inc., to the show on Tuesday, Feb. 26 at 11 a.m. Eastern Time. Mary Ellen is passionate about helping people learn how to create pollinator corridors in their own backyards. She will discuss the work she did at Happy Tonics’ teaching garden in Shell Lake, WI and her books on Monarchs. She also will talk about the wild butterflyand solitary bee nesting habitat she is creating in Fitchburg, MA. For more information, visit Mary Ellen’s Facebook page. For an expanded slide show go to Talkupy.net

Butterfly Corner

Ryall, M.E., 06 June 2012. Washburn County Register, Butterfly Corner.

False indigo is in in first book after planting three years ago

False indigo is in in first book after planting three years ago

Saturdays at the Habitat:  8 a.m. – 10 a.m. The first and second Saturday Habitat Yard Sale for the butterflies took place. Folks came by to tell us how lovely the Monarch Butterfly Habitat looks. Others came on bike or by car and bought a few things. Saturdays are fun at the habitat. We planted a few violets for the fritillary butterfly. A Three Sisters Garden was planted, just before it rained. Weeds were pulled, wet newspaper put down, and topsoil added that Steve Degner delivered. We added aged sheep manure and a package of potting soil. This planting style is known as the lasagna method. The idea is to not dig into the soil, but add to it. We planted birdhouse gourd seed and hope they will grow among squash, heirloom beans, and Pungo Creek butcher corn, a variety of rainbow red, brown, yellow, and sometimes purple ears.  For 165 years, the corn has been grown by farmers of Pungo Creek, Virginia.

May 25: The once rare brown Argus butterfly of southern England has found a new food source according to Butterfly Conservation, a science and advocacy group in the United Kingdom. The butterfly was located in southern England within a small area with a less common host rock-rose plant. Now the butterfly has migrated north due to climate change. A cooler environment was critical for its survival. To scientists’ surprise, the butterfly caterpillar is eating geraniums, which are abundant.  “The change in diet represents a change to the interactions between species – in this case between a butterfly and the plants that its caterpillars eat – caused by climate warming.”  This is the first case of a butterfly that can survive with a change in host plant, due to climate change. More science research and documentation will be ongoing to track butterfly species adaption to climate change. Terry Root, Stanford University, states that for every winner, there will be three loser species. Source: Butterfly Conservation Organization.

Wet bumblebee after a storm copyright Mary Ellen Ryall

Wet bumblebee after a storm copyright Mary Ellen Ryall

May 28 – June 1: It was a virtual butterfly and bumblebee feast at the property in Minong. I saw a fritillary, American copper, red Admiral and many monarch butterflies. The fritillary deposited eggs on tiny violet leaves. The monarch deposited eggs on milkweed.  Yesterday it was the bumblebees. I counted 18 large bumblebees on chive flowers. Some were sleeping while others drank nectar from flowers. Two species of bumblebees were noted: double banded rust and impatiens.

Red Admiral copyright Mary Ellen Ryall

Red Admiral copyright Mary Ellen Ryall

The Monarch Butterfly Habitat in Shell Lake was alive with red Admiral butterflies.

Common buckeye copyright Mary Ellen Ryall

Common buckeye copyright Mary Ellen Ryall

There were several of them nectaring on native ninebark shrub. Common buckeye and

American Lady copyright Mary Ellen Ryall

American Lady copyright Mary Ellen Ryall

American Lady were also seen. American lady differs from painted lady in that the butterfly has two giant eyespots on hind wings.

June 2: Family Festival was held in Spooner at the Fairgrounds. Hundreds a parents, grandparents, friends, and children were in attendance. Fresh Start and Happy Tonics partnered together to provide fun activities for children. My newest book, Monarch Butterfly Coloring Book,  just came out on Amazon. Copies were made of the butterfly coloring pages.

Gideon Fegman coloring monarch from Monarch Butterfly Coloring Book

Gideon Fegman coloring monarch from Monarch Butterfly Coloring Book

Gideon Fegman enjoyed coloring a monarch and said, “I am a naturologist.” John Jess, of Minong, provided several clay birdhouses and paint. Dan Gunderson, Fresh Start, gave the bird houses a first coat of paint. Children painted decorative designs on the birdhouses. We plan to make a stand and exhibit the birdhouses at the Monarch Butterfly Habitat in Shell Lake.

Remember to stop by the Habitat on Saturday mornings and join the flea market fun from 8 a.m. – 10 a.m. Visitors can volunteer to do a few morning chores also.

Butterfly Corner with Happy Tonics

Butterfly Corner
by Mary Ellen Ryall

April 20 – In honor of Earth Day, Jim VanMoorleham and I planted five native chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa) shrubs in area three, near the Memory Tree Grove, at the Monarch Butterfly Habitat. Black chokeberry is a deciduous, cold hardy shrub useful in landscape plantings, showing white flowers in the spring, colorful red foliage, and heavy dark fruit in the fall.

Meadow fritillary copyright Mike Reese, Wisconsin Butterflies Organization

Meadow fritillary copyright Mike Reese, Wisconsin Butterflies Organization

April 24 – Today I saw a white cabbage and a fritillary butterfly. The fritillary’s host plant is violet; flowers are in bloom. Butterfly sightings were posted to Wisconsin Butterfly Organization at http://wisconsinbutterflies.org/Individuals may record their butterfly sightings at this site. Kids would enjoy this activity as much as adults do. The project allows us to understand butterfly population trends.

My Name is Butterfly copyright Mary Ellen Ryall

I am happy to report that my book, “My Name is Butterfly,” is now available at Gadsden Public Library in Gadsden, AL. I am thrilled that libraries around the country are purchasing the book for children. Book postcards also went to the State Library Convention in AL where it was given exposure to other librarians.

According to ABC News, “A female Baringo giraffe calf at the Bronx Zoo was enjoying the warm New York weather over the weekend while frolicking with a butterfly that flew through her exhibit. The butterfly caught the newborn baby’s eye while she was nuzzling her mom and exploring her new home. The calf was born in March but has not yet been named, according to the Bronx Zoo. All of the zoo’s giraffes are named in memory of James and Margaret Carter, benefactors for the Carter Giraffe Building.” You can view the chase at http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/video/baby-giraffe-chases-butterfly-bronx-zoo-16151869

Award winning squash bread copyright Mary Ellen Ryall

Award winning squash bread copyright Mary Ellen Ryall

April 25 – My recipe for Squash Bread was a winner at the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwa Community College Sustainability Living Fair. The bread was chosen for Jiibaakweyang, We are Cooking Together, Flavors of Lac Courte Oreilles. I was delighted to share saved squash seed with attendees. The acorn squash grew in the Three Sisters Garden at the Monarch Butterfly Habitat in 2011. Seed sharing is all about stories of where seed comes from. At the fair, Sheldon Spratford gave me beautiful corn husks. He reported that his grandmother grew the corn until the 1980s, when she passed away. He found one husk of dried corn at her house afterwards and saved it. Sheldon, an elder, mentioned that he has been growing the sweet corn since the 1990s. He mentioned that the corn is sweet and small. Happy Tonics will offer the seed at several environmental events in May. The Visitors Center/Store will be open for the season on Memorial Weekend. We invite you to stop by for sweet corn seed.

April 26 – Journey North reported that the monarch migration moved into five new U.S. states—Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Iowa, and Minnesota this past week. The cold snap is keeping monarchs away from Shell Lake; there is no milkweed up yet in the habitat. Let us hope that a warming spell will begin soon.

Carol Hubin reported on April 28 that milkweed is up on her property in Shell Lake. Keep your eyes posted. If you spot a monarch, please let us know if it is a faded butterfly or freshly born. Knowing the difference will allow Happy Tonics to record the following: Did the butterfly fly all the way from Mexico or is this the first generation of butterfly in the U. S.? Female butterflies will need milkweed to lay their eggs on. Female butterflies only live a few weeks after depositing eggs.

In 2012, we are going to count monarch eggs at the Monarch Butterfly Habitat and mark milkweed plants that have eggs. Wire cages with tags will be used to identify which milkweed plants have eggs. If you have any old tomato cages to donate or see a monarch sighting, please call Mary Ellen at (715) 466-5349.

Ginger Wilcox smudges Mike Carpenter

Ginger Wilcox smudges Mike Carpenter

April 28 – 5th Annual Earth Day Event in Shell Lake was well attended. We are grateful to Dr. John Anderson and Ginger Wilcox for leading us in a Native American Ceremony to honor donors. Butterfly friends came to celebrate the butterfly and conservation efforts on behalf of the butterfly. Happy Tonics hosted an informal potluck afterwards at the Visitors Center/Store at 25 Fifth Avenue, Shell Lake.

Butterfly Corner

Published in Washburn County Register, February 8, 2012

News from Xerces Society, “In 2010, with support from the Monarch Joint Venture and USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Conservation Innovation Grant, Xerces Society initiated a multi-state project to increase the availability of milkweed seed for large-scale restoration efforts in California, Nevada, Arizona, New México, Texas and Florida. Xerces is working with native seed producers and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Plant Material Program to increase the production of local ecotype native milkweed seed.” The reason for the collaborative milkweed seed project is because pollinators, including the monarch butterfly, are besieged with a threatened migration phenomenon.

Prior to Xerces Society milkweed initiative, Happy Tonics has been selling common milkweed seed since 1999. Milkweed is the only host plant of the monarch butterfly. The seed is offered in the Visitors Center/Store in downtown Shell Lake. The store reopens on Memorial Day Weekend. Out of season, milkweed seed is sold online through eBay. Several seed buyers from around the country are now donors of Happy Tonics nonprofit public charity. Some buyers have gone on to build butterfly gardens at schools and monarch butterfly habitats on their own property. It is good to know that monarch butterfly conservation is an ongoing environmental education act that brings positive results to help the monarch butterfly.

Cindy Dyer, VP Marketing, Happy Tonics, will have a one woman art show at the Horticulture Center, Green Spring Gardens, in Alexandria, Virginia. The exhibit, “Garden Muse: A Botanical Portfolio,” will run February 28 – April 29, 2012. If you wish to take a sneak preview of Cindy’s extraordinary floral and insect photography visit http://www.gardenmuseshow.com  Her garden photography was also honored by Nikon camera in 2011. Here is a link to their Web page featuring Cindy’s garden photography tips at http://www.nikonusa.com/Learn-And-Explore/Photography-Techniques/gr35ffdt/all/How-To-Grow-Your-Garden-Photography-Skills.html

In summer 2011, Cindy photographed butterflies and native plants while visiting the Monarch Butterfly Habitat in Shell Lake. We are working on a Field Guide – Monarch Butterfly Habitat. The publication will highlight the symbiotic relationship between native plants and pollinators including the monarch butterfly, birds and small animals.

 

 

 

 

Exciting Findings Monarch Survival: An Amazing Feat

Source: News from Monarch Larva Monitoring Project (MLMP) – University of Minneapolis.

Butterfly followers may find this article of interest considering that Karen Oberhauser, Director of Monarch in the Classroom, wrote. Karen is a leading scientist and teacher in the field of monarch biology and migration. She wrote, “Mary Ellen Ryall from Shell Lake, WI, has established and dedicated a native remnant tall grass prairie as monarch habitat on 1/2 acre of city land. After a tremendous storm, she has shared an amazing story of monarch survival.”

On July 1, 2011 a straight line wind at 100 mph struck Minong, WI. It blew down 11 red pine trees on my property in the village. In the process of storm cleanup, the trees were cut and taken to the local saw mill to be turned into board foot. There was an Aldo Leopold Bench that was crushed beneath one tree. The logger brought his big equipment in and lifted the tree so that his son could save the bench.

Chrysalis after the storm. On underside of Aldo Leopold bench copyright Mary Ellen Ryall

Chrysalis after the storm. On underside of Aldo Leopold bench copyright Mary Ellen Ryall

Lo and behold a monarch chrysalis was on the bench. I thought about how the butterfly was a form of transformation and knew it would adapt to the landscape changes.  I marveled that I saw a few monarch butterflies flying about the day after the storm. How could winds of 100 mph wreck such havoc in the village and yet allow the butterflies to survive? How did the same wind that caused birds in maple trees to lose their lives allow a butterfly, the weight of a single maple leaf, to survive? It is a beautiful wonder.

“While monarchs have amazing tenacity, many individuals are not as lucky as those in Mary Ellen’s habitat. MLMP volunteer Diane Rock captured some incredible photos of monarch predation last summer…[monarch butterfly faces threats], especially as eggs and larvae, but also as adults. Several studies have shown that only 5-10% of monarchs survive to adulthood in the wild. In strong winds and other extreme climate conditions, individual monarchs stand a fighting chance, but they are often no match for the spiders, ants, stink bugs, wasps and other invertebrates that attack monarch larvae on milkweed plants. Black-beaked orioles and black-headed grosbeaks are common predators of adult monarchs in their overwintering sites, and in their breeding grounds, the adults may fall prey to spiders.

Monarch survival is an amazing feat, considering all the dangers that they face throughout the course of their lives. They appeal to all of us because of the astounding things they are able to accomplish. Research and monitoring through MLMP help us to understand the hardship that monarchs face, and areas where improvements can help support monarch populations.”

Monarch tasting my fingers and walks across to Valerian flower for nectar

Monarch tasting my fingers and walks across to Valerian flower for nectar

Source: After the Storm by Mary Ellen Ryall

http://www.mlmp.org/Newsletters/monthly/2011/mlmp_update_201110.pdf

Speaking of butterflies

October 11 – It was a warm October day in Northwest Wisconsin. I saw a monarch butterfly on cosmos. It was a male. I saw the trademark of two black phermones on hind wings. The butterfly was sipping nectar. I went up to it while the butterfly was engrossed in sipping sweet flower dew. Lightly grabbing its closed wings I was going to pick it up. I noticed how strong its little legs were clinging to the flower. Instead I bent down and kissed its wings and then let go. It immediately flew off. I wish the butterfly would have stayed with me a little longer. He probably thought I was a predator and he escaped.

October 12 – I saw a young monarch on the property in Minong. I was starting to worry because I didn’t see any other floral blooms except for a few African daisies. I knew if the temperature dropped, the butterflies would have a time leaving if the temperature dropped below 55 degrees Fahrenheit. It didn’t appear that the butterflies were part of the migration south simply because they looked so fresh and colorful. I suspected they were late emerged monarchs. We did have at least a glorious week of extended warm temperatures. It was a perfect Indian Summer week.

Blue Butterfly

Blue Butterfly

October 13 – The day is cold. Temperature today was 56 degrees Fahrenheit. Tonight it is dropping to 40 degrees Fahrenheit.  I brought the film Blue Butterfly to the Spooner Health Center and shared the film in the nursing home activity room which is attached to the hospital. I have a lot of old friends there and I don’t speak about age as much as I speak about some of the residents because I knew them in their healthier years about in community. Many of them know me as butterfly woman. Some even know about the Monarch Butterfly Habitat in Shell Lake that our nonprofit environmental organization created in 2008.

I want to speak about the film and some of the reactions of the elders. One nurse’s aide came in to take one of the residents out of the room. She spoke up and questioned, “Why is it you always want to take me away when I am enjoying myself?” She did make her point known. She said, “I want to watch the movie.” The nurse’s aide let her be. I can’t tell you what a delight it was for me to realize the film was reaching her inner child. She wasn’t the only one.

Jackie would laugh at different situations in the film and ask, “Do you know what butterfly that was?” Of course she was referring to some exotic species that I had never seen even though I lived in the Amazon jungle for months on end when I lived in Peru and Ecuador.

The point of the movie is to show how positive thought can manifest into healing. It is more than this too. I don’t want to spoil the movie for you if you haven’t seen it yet. I recommend the film for those who listen and act from heart center.  A review of the film follows: A dramatic adventure about courage, redemption and love being filmed in the rain forests of Costa Rica, and in Montreal. The movie was produced in 2004.

Next month I will bring in an antique platter that has the blue morph under glass. I didn’t bring it today because it was raining out. My sister Ronnie found it in an antique shop in Massachusetts and sent it to me after my husband died. Butterflies are magic and the symbol of transformation.

Be well insectamonarca friends where ever you are.

Stop illegal deforestation at Monarch Butterfly Sanctuaries

   
Published by Mary Ellen Ryall on Dec 10, 2010
Category: Environment
Region: United States of America
Target: United States of America, Canada and Mexico
Web site: http://www.happytonics.org
 
I thought this pupa was a jewel when I first saw it in the garden

I thought this pupa was a jewel when I first saw it in the garden

Background (Preamble):

The only host plant of the monarch butterfly (milkweed) is often a noxious weed in Canada. In the USA there is a loss of biodiverse agriculture and agricultural lands to urban sprawl and use of pesticides and herbicides.

In Mexico there is illegal logging of Oyamel fir trees within the Monarch Butterfly Habitat. In 2010 according to Monarch Watch over 50 percent of the monarchs died due to mudslides, freezing rains and floods within and around the sanctuaries.

 
Petition:
We the undersigned promise not to use pesticides or herbicides in gardening. We agree not to plant monoculture crops.

We promise to plant a variety of native crops and plants for pollinators and insect control. We promise to plant milkweed for the monarch butterfly to establish the next generation of butterflies.

 
To sign the petition go to http://www.gopetition.com/petition/41338.html

Shell Lake – Christmas Lights in the Park

Butterflies in the park

Butterflies in the park

Hello holiday visitors!

 Happy Tonics is participating in the Christmas Lights in the Park for this first time this year. The Lions Club and leader Arlise Santiago came up with the idea three years ago. At that time the City of Shell Lake gave permission to use the campground. There are paved roads within the campground. People can drive through the park and enjoy the festive lights and Christmas music. Churches, school, art center, bank, businesses and nonprofits are all there with lighted displays to welcome visitors and residents alike. We are the only city in Washburn County, Wisconsin, that has a unique display of lights like this.   

 This year Happy Tonics was lucky enough to buy lighted butterflies and dragonflies on sale. Board member Diane Dryden is responsible for painting the cheerful sign and putting the display up.  Sally Peterson, Mayor of Shell Lake, said she loved the display and several people told me they really liked what we did. I always have to give credit where it is due and of course the applause goes to Diane Dryden.

Hope you enjoy our show.

Sign in the park
Sign in the park

Shell Lake, Washburn County, Wisconsin

Let us dazzle you

Let us dazzle you

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