This migrating monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) stopped just long enough to make my heart soar.
Many butterflies have enjoyed the nectar from my butterfly bush (Buddleia davidii), but this was the first time I’ve seen a monarch drop by for a snack. Even though this is one of the best-known and most recognized butterflies in North America, I’d never seen one in my backyard.
Sure, I might have caught a glimpse of one as it sailed through the yard. But I was never sure that’s what I saw. It could always be another member of the family with the distinctive deep orange, black and white coloring.
Reading up on these beautiful insects, I learned that when migrating, they can be anywhere from the Midwest to the coast of California. They like open fields, roadsides, canyons and even suburban areas like my backyard.
They migrate from September through October in huge numbers on their way to the mountains in Mexico where they prefer to spend their winters.
I spotted this bit of orange from my office window, quickly grabbed my camera and started shooting like crazy. I didn’t know if I’d gotten a good image until much later.
I also submitted my sighting to Journey North, the website that tracks the monarch migration each fall and spring.
It was a rare and wonderful moment in my backyard habitat and I’m pleased to share it with you. If you’ve spotted a monarch in your landscape, would you please comment about it here?