By: Bronwyn Clear, Certified Texas Master Naturalist
Robert Frost called them …”flowers that fly and all but sing”…. For many people butterflies symbolize the free spirits of loved ones who have passed on. To others they represent second chances because they transform from crawling caterpillars into beautiful flying “flowers”.
Resurrection, change, beauty, joy and hope. Butterflies represent many things, and some are becoming endangered. Across the US, organizations, individuals and parks are installing butterfly staging gardens in the hopes of protecting them and securing their future. And in addition, who can’t use a little more beauty and joy in their lives?
Rather than spending more time discussing them, just enjoy the pictures of a few of our most dazzling local butterflies.
Below are some excellent resources to help you start up your own butterfly garden. Monarchs in particular are more endangered and need our help.
Learn more about the incredible nature in our area by joining a chapter of the Texas Master Naturalist organization. To find a chapter close to you, or to read about the state program, go online to www.txmn.org. Volunteer and get involved!
The Common Buckeye. The eye pattern is believed to be a natural selection response to predators. With “large eyes” on your back you might be mistaken for a dangerous creature, and won’t be eaten.
A stunning Giant Swallowtail. A butterfly uses his long tongue to reach in and gather his daily supply of nectar.
The Gulf Fritillary. Their topside wing colors are orange, black and a few white dots, which are very different colors than seen on their underside.
Hide your eyes! Two Gulf Fritillaries are mating! Their underside wing colors are quite different from their topsides.
A handsome Spicebush Swallowtail. They get their name from a common host plant, the spicebush, which is a native tree or tall shrub in Texas and many other states. But they will take nectar from many other sources a well.
A Black Tiger Swallowtail. Bees pollinate more flowers and plants than butterflies, but butterflies do a fair share and remain a very important pollinator.
A Yellow Tiger Swallowtail. One way to tell butterflies from moths is to look at their antennae. Butterflies have long smooth antennae with club-like ends. Moths have feathery or saw-edged antennae.