Butterfly Corner

Monarch cluster at Mexico habitat, Estela Romero, reporter, Journey North
Monarch cluster at Mexico habitat, Estela Romero, reporter, Journey North

Ryall, M. E. (14 March 2012). Butterfly Corner. Washburn County Register, p. 16

March 8, 2012 – Estela Romero, local reporter, Angangueo, Michoacan, Mexico, went to the Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary with monarch expert, Doctor Lincoln Brower, 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 2011, 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 .

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. Since the time of the dinosaurs, the butterfly has been around. 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.

Book cover copyright Lindy Casey, Salt of the Earth Press
Book cover copyright Lindy Casey, Salt of the Earth Press

March 24 –I did an author interview with Morgen Bailey, Northhampton, United Kingdom. Morgen 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 is posted at http://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/2012/03/24/blog-interview-no-318-with-writer-mary-ellen-ryall/

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 before with Butterfly Observer, Cornwall Butterfly Conservation.

March 29 – The first week of April, I will be in Washington, DC. While there, I will attend Cindy Dyers one woman photography exhibit at Green Springs Garden, in Alexandria, VA. Cindy is Happy Tonics VP of Marketing. Check out her exquisite photography at http://www.gardenmuseshow.com/. I am doing a book tour in DC; 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.

Updates:

Morgen Bailey has a few interesting links for aspiring and published authors. Check out http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/morgenbailey

You may want to connect with Morgen at New forum at http://morgenbailey.freeforums.org

Don’t forget to check out Morgen’s Blog at http://morgenbailey.wordpress.com

Mary Ellen’s Meet the Author event is scheduled at Calvert Pines Senior Center, Prince Frederick, So. MD, 12:30 p.m.

Mary Ellen’s Meet the Author event is scheduled at The Good Earth Natural Food Company, Leonardtown, So. MD, 9:30 a.m. – 12 Noon.

Butterfly Corner

Black swallowtail butterfly copyright Erin Pryor Pavlica
Black swallowtail butterfly copyright Erin Pryor Pavlica

January 3, 2012 – I received an email asking for help. A black swallowtail butterfly was born in a home in Saint Paul, MN. I could hardly believe it.  How was this possible? Erin Pryor Pavlica needed to know what nectar sources to offer the butterfly. The butterfly formed a chrysalis in November and Erin brought it inside. The butterfly emerged on January 3. Normally butterflies don’t need nectar for 24-48 hours after they emerge. I suggested she try sweet fruit such as an orange and sugar water. Butterflies taste with their feet. The next day, Erin reported that the butterfly did not taste the orange. She was going to try sugar water next.

Erin posted her story on Facebook. Many people around the country answered with suggestions and some had tried similar nectar for butterflies born out of season in their own homes. All agreed that it would be impossible to move the butterfly. There is an average of 560 species of swallowtails. Many are brilliant and live in the tropics. The Monarch Butterfly Habitat in Shell Lake is home to the yellow Canadian Tiger swallowtail in season. Normally the butterfly overwinters outside in the pupal stage. Some swallowtails may spend more than a year like this. I imagine that the home, being heated, was too warm and triggered a different response. Perhaps this is why the butterfly emerged in winter. Surely the butterfly was out of its natural life cycle and habitat.

The black swallowtail is thriving. The butterfly has enjoyed sipping from a rotten old apple and an aged squashed banana. On Saturday, Erin said, “Yes, I have several cotton pads with sugar solution soaked into them. I put fresh solution out several times a day. The butterfly is usually active after eating!”

I would like to mention that Erin had a baby girl, Quinn Mae, on New Year’s Eve. She is thrilled that the black swallowtail butterfly arrived within days of the child’s birth. I invited the family to visit Shell Lake next summer. I look forward to celebrating the butterfly baby at the Native Wildflower and Butterfly Garden. Quinn Mae won’t be the first butterfly baby to be remembered at the Monarch Butterfly Habitat.

January 24 – Environmental Film Fest, 12 Noon, Lac Courte Oreilles (LCO) Ojibwa Community College, 13466 W Trepania Road, Hayward. Film: WATERBUSTER. The film is about the effects of the Gannon Dam on the Missouri River and how a family, which is one of the WATERBUSTER clan, was torn apart and their journey back to wholeness again. Susan Menzel, Tribal collage intern, stated she watched the film and drew parallels about Lac Courte Oreilles history. There was a time when the tribe was flooded to create the Chippewa Flowage in 1924 and the Winter Dam was installed. The Dam was turned over to LCO in the 1970s.  Speaker to be announced.  The event is open to the community.