Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Late Arrivals

White Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland

I don't remember many songs from Alice in Wonderland ... with the exception of one. It's the one the White Rabbit sings as he's dashing across the meadow.

I'm late, I'm late,
For a very important date.
No time to say, "Hello," "Goodbye,"
I'm late, I'm late, I'm late, I'm late! ...

I run and then I hop, hop, hop
I wish that I could fly
There's danger if I dare to stop
And here's the reason why ...
You see I'm overdue
I'm in a rabbit stew
No time to say "Goodbye" "Hello,"
I'm late, I'm late. I'm late!
The White Rabbit was late for his appointment with the Queen of Hearts. But it's the "queens" of the fall - Monarch butterflies - that seem to have been late this year at my house. Unlike the White Rabbit, they aren't limited to "hop, hop, hopping." But their "air traffic" seems to have been delayed (kind of like those poor Southwest Airlines passengers over the weekend).

Usually, the Monarchs arrive in September around the shelterbelts near our home. And my unofficial nature consultant and friend, Pam, posted a spectacular photo of the butterflies roosting near Cheyenne Bottoms almost a month ago.
But I had only seen a few. However, on Saturday as Randy was planting wheat, he called and said he was stirring up butterflies as he drove along some tree rows. On my first attempt to find them, I saw a few, but they weren't landing for long enough to click the camera shutter. Later on Saturday, after the front moved in, I was able to "capture" a few in my camera lens.

Butterflies are truly miraculous.

If nothing ever changed, there'd be no butterflies.
- Author Unknown

That's quite a reminder for this change-challenged person. They are the ultimate symbol of transformation. As George Carlin once quipped, "The caterpillar does all the work but the butterfly gets all the publicity."

I'm not sure that's true of monarch butterflies. It sounds like a lot of work to me to travel for two months, across thousands of miles, bucking wind and rain and predators. And it's all to get to a destination they've never visited before.
County Line photo from 2019
They begin the journey in their summer home in Canada and the northern regions of the U.S. They are headed for a mountain range 70 miles west of Mexico City in central Mexico, where they find the perfect habitat to survive November through March in the Oyamel forests. As many as 300 million spend the winter there. Wouldn't that be a sight to see?

It's not like ducks and geese which migrate year after year. They will only make this journey one time. So how do they know where to go? It is just another miracle of God's creation. Researchers say that it appears to be a combination of directional aids such as the magnetic pull of the earth, the position of the sun and the availability of milkweed, where the butterflies lay their eggs.

No matter the reason, they are a beautiful signal of fall ... whether they are late or not.


  1. I am always amazed when reading of this migraation. We seem to constantly have them in our garden or on our hikes. I finally googled this morning, but kept getting only info on the American migration. This was the best information I could find. They are certainly not a regular talking point here.


  2. It's interesting that the Australians are told to get rid of milkweed. At fall events like Monarch Mania at the Quivira National Wildlife Refuge, milkweed is distributed for people to plant to attract butterflies! We have it in our pastures and along the ditches. Thanks for sharing the link.

  3. I'm in central Iowa. The butterflies were here for four days in the first week of September. They were do beautiful.

    1. I always look forward to their arrival. I was beginning to wonder if they had bypassed me this year.