Saturday, April 1, 2017

Today's walk report: 040117, butterflies are...

... few. If you were able to date yourself far back enough and were thinking "free", nope, that's not the case. If you're environmentally aware you may know of the 90% decline of monarch butterflies that has taken place over the past 20 years but I'm here to say that monarchs are not the only concern. In just the 5 years I've been back in this part of SoCal I've seen a decline in everything from common grass skippers to swallowtails, mourning cloaks (Nymphalis antiopa), Vanessa atalanta, Vanessa cardui, Gulf fritillary, monarchs (Danaus plexippus), Leptotes marina and Pieris rapae. There's probably a few others that aren't coming to mind. When I think back some 45 years (or so) to my childhood the butterfly population situation is downright depressing. Today the concern is higher than ever with a Presidential cabinet that appears hellbent on destroying the environment (and a lot more).


Yesterday while watering in our backyard I was able to put aside the above stated reality for awhile and take in the joy of this lovely lady (I'm pretty sure this is a female) and a perfect specimen at that. We have two 6'+ (2 meter) pride of Madeira (Echium candicans) subshrubs that are flowering heavily and this Papilio rutulus, aka, the western tiger swallowtail was enjoying them immensely. In fact I was able to get 974 shots off during her 17 minute stay.

Our walk took place shortly after this wonderful event but no cameras were in play. PS, we saw "our" ducks again (read back one post)!


No April fools jokes but rather a peaceful morning walk to our nearby garden hang. 

Right outside the front door.

Papaver rhoeas and a little insect.
This was the only butterfly I saw in the garden and this story doesn't have a happy ending.

It was still cool at the time I took my last pictures of this Vanessa atalanta and it wasn't very active for that reason. The situation allowed a lot of picture taking. I was changing out a close-up lens on a nearby bench and suddenly I saw a sparrow sized bird fly right over this spot on the ground. When I went back to look seconds later the butterfly was gone. I didn't see the catch but it didn't look good for the butterfly.

Hummingbirds were mostly chasing each other so there weren't too many photo ops on that front but there was this...

Female Calypte anna on Grevillea sericea.
and both my girl and I had a "that was fun" moment while sitting on a bench taking photos of our friend "not Rusty" (again, if you don't get it read back a post or two).

That's all folks. Thanks again for coming along!


  1. All beautiful shots, Eric! I'm seeing far fewer butterflies here too. The only uptick has been in the number of sulphur butterflies (Phoebis sennae) and I think that's attributable to the Senna bicapsularis growing in my dry garden as it's a host plant. Hopefully, the pruning I recently gave it won't put the butterflies off.

    1. Phoebis sennae, there you go, one I forgot. They are also way down here and there are at least 3 Senna bicapsularis bushes in the garden. A couple of them are pretty massive.

  2. Just astounding and beautiful as always. One of my favorite authors , Barbara Kingsolver, wrote a fictional novel entitled " Flight Behavior", premised upon monarch butterflies relocating their traditional nesting area from Mexico to Tennessee. Great story and a lot of information about the monarch dilemma. I am always amazed by your work Eric!