Weather in the Foothills

      “As one dies so dies the other; indeed, they all have the same breath and there is no advantage for man over beast” (or butterfly). New American Standard Bible, Ecclesiastes 3:19


About a decade ago, my husband gave up the arduous task of mowing the grass that runs the length at the back of our property. The drought was the deciding factor in such a bold move. The constant sprinkler management was daunting. The lush green had slowly turned into an intermingled variety of grasses marked by brown patches (we wouldn’t point any paws here!) so was ripped out. Now in its place is a garden, mostly native and somewhat non-thirsty perennial plants have overtaken the yard … bye-bye fescue! Since then, other flowers and plants have blown in on the wind or were brought in by pollinators … or were ones given as nice-husband gifts. One of those is milkweed – the staple food of monarch caterpillars.

Every year, as spring weather dominates the leftover winter, I watch eagerly for caterpillars to inhabit our milkweed. This year, I decided to take the matter out of Mother Nature’s hands and raise the caterpillars into butterflies myself. I had no idea what a passion it would become! The miraculous metamorphosis that plays out within their netted enclosure!

Monarchs are in dire need of human intervention. Their numbers have been dramatically decreasing – declining 80% in the past 20 years. The population is now far too low for comfort – meaning an early winter storm during their migration has the potential to wipe out the entire species.

The plight of the honeybee is one with which you may be more familiar and the monarch, as a fellow pollinator, has also suffered harm as a result of environmental change, pesticide use and habitat loss. So what can you do to help ensure monarchs are around for future generations? Obsessed with these flying miniature stained-glassed windows, I have spoken to groups (especially children). Next week, I’ll continue with more butterfly information.

Good news … the monarch population is rebounding. The winter before last, the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation recorded in California fewer than 2,000 monarchs (Danaus plexippus). That’s a fraction of the tens of thousands that gathered in recent years. In the 1980s, monarchs wintering in California numbered in the millions. During the winter of 2021-22 monarch butterflies migrating to California made a promising rebound from the edge of extinction. Numbers went over 100,000 for this season!

No rain on the radar for the upcoming week. Warm days and cool nights. Temperatures are expected to be warm in the valleys and cooler along the coast. Just about perfect weather for both man and butterfly alike!