Monday, July 30, 2018

Butterflies, Dead Limbs And Old Dogs

I was sitting out on the porch with the pooch a little bit ago, when a bluebird left his perch on a small dead limb of the nearest oak and dove for something in the grass. Almost as quickly, two small, black butterflies dove for the bluebird as if coming to their fellow insect’s defense. The little bird flew off, having wolfed down its meal and the butterflies pursued a short distance and then returned to a tree branch.

I’d never seen such behavior in butterflies, but I suspect they weren’t attacking the bird, since they have no defense of their own. I rather imagine they thought he was a pretty, blue, quick-moving flower.

I got to thinking about how long it’s been since I’d seen a Monarch butterfly and decided that I’d seen none yet this year, and only one or two last year. An online source gave the reason this way: “There are three main reasons for the decline,the use of genetically modified, herbicide-resistant crops that destroy milkweed and nectaring habitat, the deforestation in Mexico, and the recent bouts of severe weather.”

Personally, I think the first “reason” is bogus. I believe it’s the over-use of herbicides, PERIOD. The farmer gets a lot of the blame, rightly or wrongly. However, hundreds of thousands of miles of utility right-of-ways are now drenched with the stuff, killing millions of milkweed plants that once provided food for the Monarch. Add to that the highway departments of many, if not all, states and you have probably MILLIONS of miles of destroyed Monarch habitat (not to mention my day-lily patch, blackberry patch and elderberry bush). It’s a sad state of affairs.

I mentioned the small dead limb where the bluebird perched. I have to pick up a few dead limbs that have fallen in the yard before most mowings. Occasionally, one falls that would kill you if it conked you on the head. My oaks were fairly young when I moved here 38 years ago. They’re reaching middle-age now and are starting the self-pruning process that mature trees go through. That’s not such a good thing if you enjoy sitting under the trees.

When she was younger, the Mighty Dachshund used to lie at “attention” when we were on the porch, like some concrete lion at the end of some pretentious person’s drive-way. I suppose she was afraid she’d miss something, plus wanted to be instantly ready to jump into action “if needed.”

She’s seven now and getting pretty grey around the muzzle. Lately, she’s learned that she can ease the pressure on her aging joints by rolling over on her side and taking a nap. I suspect it’s also because she knows “the big dog” can pretty-well handle anything that comes up and thinks that she can let her guard down a little. Watching her lie there and snore, I was reminded of Tom T. Hall’s song “Old Dogs, Children and Watermelon Wine.” I don’t know about the wine, but he was right about the kids and the dogs. Copyright 2018


Mamahen said...

I agree...One of my favorite old songs:))

Gorges Smythe said...

Yeah, Mh, I like Tom T. Hall in general.