Fall Butterflies

Its officially fall here in hill country which means pumpkin spice everything and fall butterflies. Every year, around October, various species of butterflies swarm the hill country. Most often people see them crossing roads in large groups headed in some unknown direction. I collected some photos and interesting tidbits on the most notable species that appear in early fall.

 Photo taken by me in Piedra Herrada reserve, Mexico. December 2017

Photo taken by me in Piedra Herrada reserve, Mexico. December 2017

One of the rock stars of the insect world is by far the monarch butterfly. A migration route that takes them from Canada to Mexico, on altering generations, makes them an amazing creature. Think of all the obstacles they must pass through to make it to their destination. Cars, semi trucks, small children, birds with a taste for butterfly, bad weather and much more. These butterflies pass through Austin in October and are a sight to see. Luckily Austin has signed the Mayors Monarch Pledge, along with 300 other cities to complete 24 actions to protect the monarch. The monarchs will arrive in their winter home of Northern Mexico by December. I was lucky to be able to travel to one reserve last year and see them. It was incredible and I highly recommend it to anyone.

 A very lovely monarch caterpillar, I snapped this photo on Sept 24 in Austin.

A very lovely monarch caterpillar, I snapped this photo on Sept 24 in Austin.

 American Lady (painted lady) Wikimedia Commons (Derek Ramsey 2007) https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/6a/American_Lady_Vanessa_virginiensis_Upper_Wings_1609px.jpg

American Lady (painted lady) Wikimedia Commons (Derek Ramsey 2007) https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/6a/American_Lady_Vanessa_virginiensis_Upper_Wings_1609px.jpg

Easily confused with the monarch, the American Lady is a slightly smaller species that calls this area home. It can be seen on some of the same plants as the monarch, it is unable to survive cold winters so it thrives pretty well in the mild temperatures around Austin.

 A Black Swallowtail, photo taken by me Oct 4 2018.

A Black Swallowtail, photo taken by me Oct 4 2018.

The Black Swallowtail is a striking butterfly that is large and catches your eye. This one was found in a garden located around a shopping center. Proof that a little bit of effort can go a long way to providing a habitat for species in our world. Surprisingly this species likes to lay eggs on some of our favorite kitchen herbs, dill, fennel and parsley. You wont see the Black Swallowtail migrate anywhere, it calls many places in the southern USA home.

To see some butterflies you need to hang out around pasture land in rural areas, anywhere with lots of greenery. This year has been a good year for butterflies but overall they are in decline. As we pave over our green spaces for new developments we are taking away habitat for the local species. The best thing you can do is diversify your garden. Plant pollinator friendly plants and let that garden get a little wild with some diversity of wildflowers.