Butterfly Diary 2016, Week 6

Gray cracker butterfly
Trio of butterflies on pink zinnias
This trio enjoying the pink zinnias brought in for the butterflies includes a monarch, orange Julia and buckeye.

A sunny day made occupants and visitors alike happy at Dow Gardens’ Butterflies in Bloom.

One of the questions I was asked most often Tuesday was, as one child put it, “Why are you putting water on the floor?” With sun pouring through the glass, I had to do this about every hour, more often than usual.

Using a hose to fill two watering cans

I tell people that many of our butterflies come from jungle and rain forest environments, and while we can’t bring in all of their native plants, we replicate their humidity and temperature the best we can.

Five butterflies sunning on orange zinnias
The sun and orange zinnias combined to make this a popular spot.

Some butterfly nicknames make sense, some less so. Crackers get their name because the males make a “cracking” sound when being territorial. The two below are a gray cracker, which is gray, and a red cracker, which is blue.

Gray cracker butterfly

Red cracker butterfly

Two butterflies, including a blue morpho, eat bananas

The butterfly on the right above is a blue morpho. You can just barely see the blue topside at the wing opening. If you’re wondering why I didn’t just wait for it to open, you clearly are not one of the people who has waited 20 minutes or longer for this to happen.

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Butterfly Diary 2015, Week 3: Romance in the air

A scarlet Mormon resting and one that has other ideas.
The "Sisters" sculpture is one of four purchased to remain in Dow Gardens after the Zimbabwean sculptors in residence left.
The “Sisters” sculpture is one of four purchased to remain in Dow Gardens after the Zimbabwean sculptors in residence left.

Week 3 of Butterflies in Bloom service began a little warmer, although someone thought the Sisters sculpture needed scarves.

Stay on the path, the squirrel says.
Stay on the path, it says.

I haven’t seen any chipmunks or deer, but a squirrel was eyeing me closely.

Inside the Conservatory, the volunteer going off shift told me that two visitors were waiting for a blue morpho to emerge … and waiting … and waiting. After I had been there half an hour, the woman wanted to leave but she was afraid it would come out as soon as they turned away.

This blue morpho became stuck while trying to emerge.
This blue morpho became stuck while trying to emerge.

I told her that at this point, the poor thing was stuck and would not be emerging any further. If a chrysalis falls from a shelf with a butterfly partially emerged, I’ll retrieve it, scrape the chrysalis away and hang the butterfly in our handy “hospital tree,” a Norfolk pine behind the emergence case. The undersides of the shelves, though, are so full and busy that I won’t interfere there.

The Norfolk pine where we hang butterflies that need more time to dry. I try to put them high enough that if they fall, they still will be visible so they can be rescued again.
The Norfolk pine where we hang butterflies that need more time to dry. I try to put them high enough that if they fall, they still will be visible so they can be rescued again.

Speaking of the Norfolk pine, it got a lot of new residents while I was there. How many can you spot?

A monarch. If I had to guess one butterfly that would be on this tree, it would be a monarch.
A monarch. If I had to guess one butterfly that would be on this tree, it would be a monarch.

Here’s one of them, a monarch. I call them “beautiful and stupid” because they are notorious for crashing and needing rescue.

I have no idea what this plant is. I'd like one, though.
I have no idea what this plant is. I’d like one, though.

The Conservatory, by the way, is full of fabulous tropical plants. I wish they were labeled like the ones in the rest of Dow Gardens and plan to ask why they aren’t. I’d be happy to help tag.

Two Julias and a great Southern white eat together.
Two Julias and a great Southern white eat together.

So far the butterflies have been relatively unmolested in the food dishes. I’ve had a few children try to coax them onto fingers while they were feeding on flowers, and I point out that just like you don’t bother dogs when they’re eating, you should let the butterflies finish their meals.

A scarlet Mormon resting and one that has other ideas.
A scarlet Mormon resting and one that has other ideas.

I also saw signs of mating behavior for the first time this week. The scarlet Mormon above was in the tree for a reason and needed more recovery time, so I was annoyed when another butterfly came around with other things on its tiny little mind. But their lives are short, so hey. There also was a pair of Julias mating, with another butterfly on deck, so to speak; we do see trios close together sometimes.