Posted by: ktzefr | October 11, 2011

Follow the Butterflies…

The toad beneath the harrow knows,

Exactly where each tooth-point goes,

The butterfly upon the road,

Preaches contentment to that toad.

~ Rudyard Kipling

I’m not sure how contented the butterflies are these days.  It’s time for the monarch migration.  In fact, millions are on their way to Mexico, but a few still hover around my butterfly bush.  This morning there were four flying around the flowers as if they were tourists with all the time in the world to pack and begin their long journey.

Monarchs are hard-wired to migrate.  They know when to go, where to go, and how to prepare.  But they don’t know what awaits them this year.  They’ve been traveling through Texas for thousands of years, finding enough water and nectar to add the extra plumpness they need to carry them through the winter, but this year their route through Texas is dry.  It’s been estimated that there will be hundreds of miles with no water or flowers for nectar.  In recent years the butterflies have had other challenges, too.  The widespread use of herbicides on large farms to kill weeds amongst the corn and soybeans has also killed the milkweeds, which butterflies depend on for food.  Migration has become more challenging. 

Follow the 2011 fall migration of butterflies at Monarch Butterfly Journey North.

When I was writing TO COME AND GO LIKE MAGIC I thought about animal migrations and allowed this coming and going to work its way into the story — the monarchs to Mexico; the eels to Europe and America from the Sargasso Sea; the people of Appalachia to points around the world.  Perhaps some of us are simply hard-wired to leave and return again and again…. 

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