Wednesday, September 15, 2010


When we went to the Pinnacle Nature Preserve Area on September 5th we were surprised by the number of butterflies on the mountain.   When we went to the Smoky Mountains September 7 - 9 we saw even more.   Turns out it's Monarch migration season.  These little guys are on their way to Mexico where they winter each year.   Some travel as far as 3,000 miles!   The Monarch's we saw may have started as far north as Nova Scotia.

We stopped at an overlook along the Newfound Gap Road and discovered a field of wildflowers that was full of butterflies, including this Monarch (right) and Common Buckeye (left). 

Nearby we found several Pipevine Swallowtails (blue with orange spots under the wings) on some bushes, maybe pipevines.   Because adult butterflies are poisonous to predators from all the pipevine they eat as caterpillars, most birds avoid them, which could explain why we saw so many.

The Pipevine Swallowtails, like other butterflies, have an unusual habit of "puddling". Puddling is when many butterflies are seen at one spot, such as a shallow puddle, mud, or animal poop. When we drove into Cataloochee we found hundreds of these beautiful butterflies on the dirt road, many flattened by car tires. It was difficult to drive down the road and not run them over.

Perhaps the prettiest we saw this day was this beautiful orange Gulf Fritillary.  It seemed to pose for me.  I noticed many of the butterflies were happy to sit still, which seemed unusual.   I don't know if they were resting up for the long journey, enjoying the sun and flowers, or it was just nearing the end of butterfly season.

I used to think spring time was the time for flowers and new growth.  Now I'm seeing these God Signs in the late summer and early fall time.  What a blessing to live so close to the Smoky Mountains.   We are going to be back again and again.

If you're impressed with my knowledge of butterflies, don't be.  I used the Discover Life website to look these up.

1 comment:

  1. You are so right Richard. All that beauty just down the road and we plan and save to travel hundreds of miles to spray pixels all over this great country. But like you said Gods beauty is everwhere. The butterflies are are a perfect example. I too like the Fritilly.