Thursday, November 3, 2016

Fluttering: The Sequel

This has been truly a banner year for butterflies in our garden. On any given day last month, we could look out our kitchen window to see a dozen or more butterflies fluttering in the Turk's cap, butterfly weed, and milkweed.

Long-time crumbles will know that butterflies are special to me. The Lord has often used their beauty, presence, delicate diversity, and metamorphosis to encourage me. If I look at my circumstances and those of my loved ones over the last 6 months, there is plenty of reason for discouragement.  Many beloved activities are physically unattainable for me right now, but thankfully the Lord brings new butterflies to visit on the most downcast days. They remind me to look to the Lord and His work and to persist in praising and thanking Him in the midst of the challenges.

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18 ESV)
The gulf frittilaries were the first to arrive en masse, back in August and September when the lantana still bloomed in the back garden.

Our state butterfly, the monarch, has come in droves but is tapering off now as the majority have migrated farther south.

We even had more than a dozen monarch caterpillars, but none survived even to chrysalis stage. They have many natural enemies. Perhaps next year we'll bring one or two inside to shelter and observe.

We relished the sight of our first giant swallowtail, who very graciously lingered for a few dozen photos.

The dainty queens mingle with the monarchs, but they are smaller, with more polka-dots.

Even smaller, the grey hairstreaks brightened up all the orange and black.

Ventral wing

Dorsal wing

The pipevine swallowtails were pretty hyperactive, but one finally consented to still in the Turk's cap and on the blackberry bush to smile prettily for the camera.

Only last week we learned to distinguish between the American lady

and the painted lady.

(If you don't believe those are two different kinds of butterflies, this side-by-side comparison of American ladies and painted ladies showed me the error of my ways.)

Almost too small to notice, two kinds of skippers hide among the bees and blooms (no Gilligans, though):

Peck's skipper (I think)
Checkered skipper (I think)
Finally, we've seen at least one orange sulphur and a tiny crescent butterfly, I believe a pearl crescent.

How glorious, gracious, and kind of our Creator to give us such beauty and variety of these beautiful insects. They fulfill the important purpose of assisting the bees in pollination so that the plants we and our planet need can grow and reproduce. He could have made them plain and monotone, but he made more kinds than I've ever seen and painted even the tiniest ones with intricate and colorful patterns. He could have given us eyes only able to see in shapes and shades of grey, but He gave us vision for color and detail as well. Everywhere His creation, even in this groaning, fallen form, testifies to His goodness and majesty.

Let us praise Him for butterflies and blooms.

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