|Great Spangled Fritallary Butterflies on my Purple Milkweed|
I would have liked to get closer to get a better picture, but two factors were at play to keep me from doing so: the purple milkweed is surrounded by poison ivy plants, and butterflies -- even the Great Spangled Fritillary -- are flighty. They will seldom sit around posing for pictures if you insist on getting close. Not like bumblebees, who will let you come in for a tight shot and let you film them for hours.
In this rather long video starring a bumblebee, even a dragonfly makes a brief guest appearance. But no, that was not the guest I was longing to see.
Happy as I am to be reunited with the Great Spangled Fritillary butterflies, and to see the bumblebees and the honey bees and all the many other insects enjoying the milkweed, there was one guest that I especially longed to have take refreshment on the milkweed. But every time I went to check what was going on there, I saw many other insects, and not that special one.
I was able to stick my head in between the fence boards to get really close to the bumblebee.
But still there was no Monarch butterfly, the guest for whom all this milkweed is supposed to serve as a special incubator. I went for a walk after seeing the Great Spangled Fritillary butterflies, and I actually managed to locate the lost Common Milkweed that I thought had been eradicated. It was pushed up right against the fence, and its buds were looking underdeveloped.
|My Common Milkweed Yesterday|
|The Common Milkweed is pushed up against the fence and late to bloom|
And then, across the pasture, I spotted what looked remarkably like a Monarch butterfly. It flew in my direction, and I started filming it, but even though it was very close, it kept flying around, dancing circles around me at high speed, and when I looked at the video, all I could see was that I had been moving the camera erratically -- but no butterfly visible! It was as if the butterfly had been taunting me, offering evidence of its existence that only I could see! Watch the video above at normal speed, and you will probably come to the conclusion that I was imagining the whole thing!
|If you stop the video at this spot, you can catch a glimpse of the Monarch butterfly|
Just like the rabbits on my land, the Monarch butterfly was showing itself to me, while using highly evolved evasive maneuvers to ensure I could never catch it. To see how very fast it was going, we need to take account that in the above still from the video I had my camera pointed at an easterly angle. But a few seconds later, the Monarch appears in a shot aimed due south.
|The Monarch by the ripened service berries|
A few seconds later, I caught a glimpse of it with my camera facing north, but the butterfly was already headed east. This is what flying around in circles at high speed looks like! In between these relatively clear shots, the butterfly was moving faster than my camera could follow. If I had not thought to pause the video on my computer and take screenshots, I would probably have ended up discarding this video, like many previous attempts to film fast moving butterflies.
So yes, there was a Monarch butterfly on my property all along, but it would not stop and pose for me on the purple milkweed, like my more cooperative guests, the Great Spangled Fritillary butterflies and the bumblebee. Sometimes the speed of a subject will prevent us from seeing what is going on right before our very eyes. We had the same problem with Bow before he started using our hands as a pointing device. Our intern Carrie Stengel discusses the problem in the video below.
I have been characterized by some people who read this blog as "an innocent" with a rich "inner life", implying that I imagine everything that goes on with Bow, and in particular his ability to spell words. But did you know that the first time Bow spelled out what he wanted, instead of pointing at lexigrams, it was not with me?
|Eden and Bow|
It was with our new Project Bow intern, Eden Michaelov.
It was Eden who decided to put the letters up on the glass that day. And it was with Eden that Bow first spelled.
It is not a crime against society to fail to fall into line with the current consensus. The greater crime is to recant under pressure, like Joan of Arc or Galileo. Rather than being an innocent who sees visions that are not there, I am a scientist who has an open mind to the existence of uncooperative butterflies.