Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Sweet mysteries

Hummingbird moths make me think of airborne shrimp, their shrimpy legs dangling over the bee balm while the proboscis sips nectar. I haven't seen a hummingbird moth in my woods for several years, but this is an odd summer. Where, for instance, are the butterflies? Milkweed and butterfly weed are blossoming in the upper meadow, but where are the fritillarries and swallowtails? A few cabbage whites flutter around the garden, but many other common butterflies are simply absent.

I would blame the big wind but I noticed the dearth of butterflies long before the storm hit. Yesterday I went to our upper meadow seeking butterflies and saw none at all. I found several trees that looked as if they'd been snapped in two and the path to the south copse totally blocked by downed limbs. The only way around led through poison ivy, so I decided to skip that bit of woods and explore the creek instead.

That's where I found the butterfly moth fluttering amongst the bee balm, which sweetens the air with its citrusy scent. I walked along the nearly-dry creek bed enjoying the orange ditch-lilies and elegant blue bellflowers blossoming on the shore, but I also noted the utter lack of butterflies. Where have they gone? When will they come back? Another great mystery enlivening life in the slow lane. 


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