My office here at the Museum looks out on the main stairway leading to the Butterfly House. As I sat at the computer this morning checking email and getting my gear ready for the first trip into the Wild, I noticed a large butterfly floating above and through the garden which flanks the stairway. The butterfly appeared very dark. I assumed it was a swallowtail. If it was a swallowtail, it would be a very late swallowtail.
Several minutes later, as I headed up the stairs on my way to the day’s first trip into the wilderness, I stopped by the lantana which grows in just about the same location that I had spied the butterfly minutes earlier. There, clinging to and nectaring on a lush orange and yellow cluster of flowers was a female monarch.
It’s not unheard of to see a monarch in our state during November, I’ve seen them here before at this time of year, but it’s certainly not a common sight.
This insect doesn’t appear tattered or worn as if it had been winging its way south to Mexico, stopping off at the Museum to refuel. In fact, it looks quite fresh. It may have just eclosed, or emerged from its chrysalis, right here at the Museum, in the very garden in which it now sips nectar.
Will this butterfly make it to Mexico? If it can hang on until tomorrow when the rain we’ve been experiencing lets up, it may indeed head south. If not, it’ll have to wait till this Sunday for favorable winds.