Sunday, July 02, 2006

Counting butterflies at Sugarite

Lord, open my eyes to your glory in every flower, every face, every blessing – and to your awesome butterfly creatures!

I’ve never paid much attention to butterflies before. I might see a pretty orange one flitting by, but never paid a lot of attention to any details. They just seemed to be flying about willy-nilly, enjoying life and sipping nectar from flowers. Boy, was I wrong!

Today was the annual official butterfly count for the Sugarite Canyon and I “participated.” Mostly just going along in order to learn more about these flying wonders. Butterfly expert Steve Cary could call out family and specie names as they flew by. To me they were simply large orange, small orange, white, yellow and dark ones – not a lot of help.

Our group spent nearly five hours on six miles of trails that went through a variety of habitats. All along the way Steve educated us. I did remember that this adult state is but one portion – and a short one at that – of a butterfly’s life. They start as eggs, progress to larva, pupa and finally adults. During their short adult life they must find a suitable mate and get eggs laid on a “host” plant in order for the species to continue. So their flitting around does have a definite purpose.

The Sugarite area has five families of butterfly and each family has numerous species. Today we identified 38 of the 90 different species on the Sugarite Canyon/Lake Dorothey butterfly list. Most of the species are residents that spend their entire lives here; the Monarch is the only butterfly to migrate to Mexico to avoid winter.

Tomorrow I leave Sugarite and head north to Colorado Springs. Here I’ll meet up with my sister Linda and her husband Bob. I’ll have wireless Internet access and will get my daily entries posted.

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