It seems like every time I look up in my garden something is flying around. Mostly hummingbirds and butterflies. There are three hummingbirds (a pair of Costa’s and an Anna’s) that call my garden home. They seem to be engaged in a never ending battle over control of the territory. I’m surprised that they haven’t starved to death because it appears that they spend all of there time chasing each other and would have no time or energy left to eat. When they aren’t chasing each other, they attempt to chase off other birds, and I’ve even seen them trying to chase butterflies.
This fall my garden is full of butterflies. I’ve planted an area adjacent to my side patio with plants that will attract butterflies. Most notably Butterfly Mist (Eupatorium Greggii) and several species of Milkweed. I love to sit on the patio and watch the parade of color and movement of whole groups of Queens, Black Swallow Tails, Giant Swallow Tails, Sulphurs, Painted Ladies and occasionally a Monarch.
Several weeks ago I noticed a Monarch in the garden. She was pretty faded and one back wing didn’t work quite right. I could only imagine the journey she had been on from the Midwest to Arizona. She stayed around for a while and I saw her laying eggs on one of my milkweeds. A few days later the eggs hatched and the caterpillars began devouring my milkweed. It is amazing how much they eat and how quickly they grow. After a couple of weeks I noticed that most of caterpillars were gone and I found one crawling across the patio toward the BBQ counter. Within a a few hours it had attached itself to the underside of the counter and began transforming itself into a chrysalis. Over the next 10 days the chrysalis slowly changed color from pale green to brown and early one morning a new adult Monarch emerged. It spent an hour or so drying out and expanding its wings and then spent the day feeding and flying around the garden. Late in the afternoon I watched as it flew high into the air, caught the wind and headed off to the south continuing the journey to winter in Mexico. A beautiful bright orange and black replacement for the battered and faded adult that had laid the egg.