Phlutters – Small Miracles Part II

Part II of my small miracles day doesn’t have the beauty of the newly hatched Swallowtail butterfly, but it will help facilitate more miracles. I grow dill and other host plants for Swallowtail butterflies each year. This season I was determined to also grow plants for Monarchs.

I have managed to sprout some milkweed seeds by the winter-sowing method. Because I know the milkweed has a tap-root I chose to sow the seeds in peat pots and enclosed them in a recycled food container during the winter months. They have sprouted. I will get them in the ground as soon as possible so that the tap-root will not be disturbed and the plants will have a better chance at survival.

Asclepias syriaca: Common milkweed is the host plant for Monarch butterflies.

“Monarchs cannot survive without milkweed; their caterpillars only eat milkweed plants (Asclepias spp.), and monarch butterflies need milkweed to lay their eggs. With shifting land management practices, we have lost much milkweed from the landscape.” ~ Monarch Joint Venture

I know the assessment of Monarch Joint Venture is true. I can name three parcels of land within a mile or two of my home where I once saw milkweed. All three have been built upon, weed whacked, or decimated by the relentless need to clear land for business purposes. I’m sure this same problem is rampant across the country.

Due to the loss of habitat for monarchs, this year I collected a bit of seed from a milkweed patch to grow in my gardens. I’ll be planting the sprouts soon so that the long root can develop unhindered. I also have several milkweed seeds in my freezer. I’ll plant a few in my garden beds and also find some areas near me where they might have a chance to grow. If you want to participate in helping Monarch butterflies survive and thrive you can find some good tips here: Monarch Butterfly Garden.

Phlutters – A Day of Small Miracles Part I

In a November post, Comminatory Weather and the Big Save, I described how I saved two Swallowtail butterfly caterpillars from a hard freeze in my garden. One didn’t make it, but the other formed a chrysalis which has rested on the soil of a dried out pot of dill for several months.


I left it alone for the most part, only dripping a bit of water on it now and then when I watered my plants. Today when I entered the room and checked on my garden seedlings, something fluttered and flew off the pot; I knew right away the caterpillar had changed into a butterfly.

I extended a finger, nudged his legs, and he walked on. If he had emerged in the midst of cold weather I would have tried to craft several fake flowers connected to jars of sugar water for him to survive on, but since it has warmed up and there are many flowers and trees blooming, I knew outdoors was his best chance.

I took him to the garden and gently let him move onto the edge of a daffodil. He looked happy until I moved and then he flew about twenty feet out into the yard. He flew fine, but it seemed one of his bottom wings was not quite extended all the way. He rested on the grass for quite awhile, flying now and then several feet one way then another. Suddenly, he extended his wings, flew, and was quickly out of sight. I was thrilled. Every day is blessed when it contains a small miracle or two. Part 2 of my small miracle day will be posted tomorrow.

Project & Phlutters – Butterfly Feeding/First Swallowtail Part II

Creating my butterfly feeder was quick, easy and inexpensive. I had much of what I needed on hand. A dollar store windchime with four attachments where the chimes hung was the perfect piece of mechanics for hanging a shallow container filled with Gatorade or boiled sugar water. (4 parts water to 1 part sugar)

No instructions needed, use what you have on hand. The secret lies in the wire and plastic container: a plastic dish scrubber. The butterfly can land on this and use his long proboscis to dine on the nectar. I created holes in the plastic dish with a hot ice pick.

When I added the wire for hanging I let the end curl upward. These make the perfect spear for rotting/old fruit. I was going to use a strawberry, but remembered they are heavily sprayed with insecticide. It is better to use fruit that is within a peel unless it is organic.

Phlutters – Butterfly Feeding/First Swallowtail Part I

I watered a patch of newly planted grass yesterday, and was delighted when I saw the first yellow swallowtail butterfly of 2017 ‘puddling‘ in the dampness.

He fluttered around the yard searching out more patches of damp earth for sipping, making use of the nutrients, salts and amino acids the earth contains. I was surprised upon searching the Internet to find products to purchase for ‘puddling’ butterflies. These butterfly feeders are easy to make yourself. Today, I’ll gather up some materials and post my creations tomorrow.

Phlutters – Earth Day – Two Days Late

The tiny size of the Azure Blue butterfly often causes it to be mistaken for a moth. When it lightly skims by, floating on the air, you glimpse a flash of blue. As it touches down on foliage or flowers, the blue is folded inward, hidden by the white undersides of the wings.

I’m so grateful for the zoom feature on my camera and the ability of my computer to crop and enlarge photos. In a world without technology it would be hard to get a close-up look at this small butterfly.

I was lucky, at just the right moment the Azure Blue opened his wings and I pushed the shutter-release button. I have some nice views now to study and admire.

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” ~ Genesis 1:1

Earth Day was rainy here in Southern New Jersey, so I am celebrating what Earth Day means to me the whole week through: harmony between men and the beautiful earth that God created.