Happy St. Patrick’s Day to all of you! Loving this photo of a sleeping shamrock. You can see more from Joshua on his Flickr.
It’s said that March is the season when Michiganders get way too excited about spring. Guilty! The Michigan Gardener’s Plant Focus on Snowdrops says (in part):
The very first bulb to cheerfully announce spring is the snowdrop. As the last winter snow melts, carpets of delicate white flowers emerge through last year’s fallen leaves. Snowdrops will reliably return year after year despite Mother Nature’s most challenging winters. The botanical name, Galanthus, comes from the Greek words Gala meaning “milk” and anthos meaning “flower.” They will thrive in the rich, moist soil usually found in the shade provided by deciduous trees. Few bulbs can tolerate shade, but snowdrops develop in the winter sun well before the leaves of trees and shrubs have expanded. Their flowers last for several weeks beginning in early March and persisting through the cool days of spring in early April. Once planted, Galanthus require no maintenance.
The GT Pulse has an in-depth interview with Cyndie Roach if the GT Butterfly House and Zoo in Williamsburg outlining the generation spanning migration of the monarch butterfly from the Oyamel fir forests of Mexico to Michigan:
…They fly over the Gulf with their first stop being in the Texas panhandle area.
“They land there, take a break, and breed by the millions, lay eggs, and then they die. That super generation has lived all winter and is now ready to make that trip to Texas. So that first generation born in the United States will know to start flying north when they’re born.”
The entire butterfly birthing process takes 30 days. Part of the inherent will to go north has to do with milkweed. It’s the plant that signals them home.
“It’s the single host plant, meaning the caterpillar needs to eat it to become a butterfly. They’re looking for milkweed to lay their eggs on. We don’t even have Milkweed growing yet in the early parts of spring. It doesn’t come up until May and June, so what’s great is that as our spring comes on and things start to get warmer, that’s what’s welcoming the monarch to the area.”
The second generation of monarchs that were born in Texas makes it to the midline of the States, roughly around the Rocky Mountains where their babies will be born, and like their parents and grandparents before them – they’ll know to keep flying north.
“By the time they reach us we’re looking at the third generation typically. So it’s their grandchildren we’re now seeing arrive in Michigan.”
Remember that milkweed Cyndie was talking about? Northern Michigan provides milkweed that some of those third-generation monarchs will use to lay their own eggs. So the butterflies that are going back down to Mexico are the fourth generation of those first butterflies coming from the Oyamel fir forests.
“That’s why it’s so important that we as Michiganders, specifically up here in Northern Michigan, provide as much milkweed habitat as we can for these amazing creatures. We play such an important role, because not only are we the ones who see them come in in the spring, but we help them create a lifecycle.”
Milkweed plays an important role in aiding the monarchs in their generational journey, but also, being cautious with fertilizer and lawn care products. The monarch butterfly population has declined 90 percent over the past two decades, which is directly related to the milkweed population being destroyed.
Charles took this last week. Head over to his Flickr for lots more!
I guess it’s Sunflower Season on Michigan in Pictures! Rapid Growth Media shared the story of of the sunflowers that are drawing folks to Liefde Farm in West Michigan:
Tucked away on a quiet stretch of country road in Olive Township, amid barns and lush green crops flourishing in the midsummer heat, is a field of golden yellow that pops in the evening sun.
Lindsey Dykstra, owner of Liefde Farm, has planted hundreds of sunflowers on a stretch of land behind her home. It’s easy to miss this sight while traveling along 104th Avenue, just south of Fillmore Street, as the flowers are hidden behind her barn.
But word has spread, and Dykstra’s quiet property, at 9400 104th Ave., is alive with a steady stream of visitors these days. She, her husband, Kevin, and her two children enjoy sitting outside and watching the photographers and happy families gathering for pictures.
“It’s nice to see people enjoy it,” Dykstra says with a smile, noting the many places that are closed due to public health concerns. “This is kind of a safer option because you can be outside.”
If you’re in a sunflowery mood, there’s more great Michigan sunflower shots on Michigan in Pictures!
Butterflies & Moths of North America says that Canadian Tiger Swallowtails are typically smaller than Eastern or Western Tiger Swallowtails. They are found in Canada as well as Alaska and the northern Great Lakes states.
Daisy June by Andrew McFarlane
For a #ThrowbackThursday, how about this pic I took 14 years ago on the Leelanau Peninsula? More in my Leelanau photo gallery on Flickr!