Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Butterflies on the Blue Ridge!

Yesterday, BEFORE it started raining –we headed out on our Blue Ridge Pilgrimage, in search of great photo ops so Mickey could see first hand the beauty of the Western North Carolina Mountains.

First Stop!  Buck Mountain Waterfall!

The rains have been so heavy this summer ---

While I was in Pennsylvania a few weeks ago, I read a news article on how people off of Pumpkin Run, the road we take to get up to Buck Mountain had to be rescue-evacuated due to flooding.  ((Yes, there is such a thing as Pumpkin Run road!))

As we drove up on Sunday afternoon --- I could still see the damage of how the creeks had overflowed their banks and the road was washed out --- there is a lot of construction going on now to build the banks back up and replace culverts, etc ---

I wasn’t expecting to see such changes at our waterfall!  They are widening the bed to give the water more area to go before it goes underneath the road.  This is the creek at the base of the waterfall.

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The picnic table area and some of the big rocks to sit on for viewing are no longer there….remember THIS photo of me on the rock? ALL gone!

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It looks like THIS now….

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While standing taking photos of the waterfall and rubble, I noticed a bit of movement out of the corner of my eye –a whole cluster of butterflies was on the ground doing their –well –was it a mating ritual? I have no idea, but if you flushed them away, they would come right back to the same spot.  The bright teal and black one I am assuming is the male --

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Notice the mail on the far right covering one of the others --

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I took several photos but none of the photos really show the movement of what was going on.

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Getting in as close as I could without them flying off.

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Closer still – and then it hit me….I DO have video on my phone!

The rest of our day was met with intermittent rain, and the clouds came down onto the mountains so there was NOT a great view on the blue ridge ---but I’m happy we got this one:

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It was sprinkling just a bit before it opened right up and let go.

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It’s our last morning at the cabin – right now there is a whole lot of dueling computerizing going on in the dining room, or what has become known as the Cyber CafĂ©!

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There will be a bit of this going on too, squeezing in every last drop we can!

We will head down the mountain about noon and get Mickey to the airport in Greensboro.

Who’s ready for QUILT-CAM??  TONIGHT!!  9PM EASTERN!  Let’s DO IT!

I have had so many emails on when we would be able to do it again, and this is it ---Friday morning I leave early for Seattle so Thursday night doesn’t work – Wednesday night, Tonight – it is!  Catch you there ---

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  1. Your butterflies are Eastern Tiger Swallowtails, and they are the state butterfly of North Carolina! No wonder you have so many!

    See you tonight at Quilt Cam!


  2. Seems like you and Mickey should start singing Zip A Dee Doo Dah ...... bluebird on my shoulder; and some birds and other forest animals should join you.

  3. Those are Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterflies and they are in that spot because they are feeding. The dark one is actually a female -- a dark version of the yellows. The female yellows have blue at the base of their smaller wings (like the dark phase one is showing very nicely), while the males do not (like the yellow one open in the same picture.) They are one of the types of butterflies that actually feed in the adult form. If you look very closely, you can see their proboscis (tongues) reaching to the ground. Their usual food is flower nectar, but here they are sucking up the minerals diluted in the dampness on the ground. I've seen more Swallowtails this summer than in any I can remember seeing before, and I'm guessing that it is because all the rain has more plants blooming and growing and providing butterfly food.

  4. Thank you to everyone for the excellent butterfly education. Who Knew!!

  5. HEY--- whatever the butterflies are --- they are GORGEOUS!!! Thanks for the info though.

    Blue Ridge is a wonderful area... You can easily see how irt got it's name. Best tranquil drive is on the Blue Ridge Parkway...it is like being in a dream.


  6. The butterflies are "puddling" - taking nutrients from the soil. I think it is magnesium. Butterflies are in abundance this year all over the east coast. Here is Maryland, my butterfly bushes look like they are taking flight with all the wings! Same ones as in your photos. BTW, butterfly bushes are beautiful, but invasive. Deadhead them so seeds don't spread. Watch along roadsides to see how many are beginning to grow where the birds drop the seeds.


  7. That butterfly behavior is called "Puddling." Those are male butterflies getting minerals in order to manufacture sperm for mating.

    Getting enough minerals and salt requires other food sources, including urine, dung and standing water. This is why you'll often see many butterflies drinking from very shallow, still water. This water has absorbed minerals from the soil underneath it, and the butterflies need these minerals to supplement their diet. This behavior is called puddling. Sometimes, butterflies will fly away from a puddle and return to it a few seconds later -- this may disturb the water, bringing more minerals to the surface. If there's no water around, a butterfly may regurgitate into the soil and then drink in the hope of retrieving minerals.

    All of these behaviors lead up to the main purpose of a butterfly's life -- reproduction.

  8. Anonymous4:32 PM EDT

    The beauty of the mountains always make me a bit home sick. I grew up in Lee County Virginia, and although not in the Blue Ridge range the mountain beauty is similar. As is the usual case, I did not fully appreciate the daily blessing of beauty before me until I was not longer there.
    I am enjoying your string quilts. One of my sisters made string quilts all the time and I am fortunate to have one of her quilts. She usually used paper for her string backing, and tied her quilts using crochet thread.
    Currently I am working on a paper pieced Wedding Ring quilt.
    I must start a string quilt in the near future. I really like the construction details of the scrappy geese. Very clever.
    Thank you for your creative blog and for letting us get a glimpse of your workroom with work in progress.

  9. Wow that was neat seeing all those butterflies on the ground like that. I see other comments above about puddling. I never knew. I wish we could have some of the rain in Texas. Be safe.
    thanks for sharing


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