Taking Time to Stop and Count the Butterflies

Karner Blue Butterfly Feeding on Horsemint

Fortunately I have friends like Deb who volunteer me for things like driving two hours away to count butterflies in the middle of a forest on a super hot summer day (actually two super hot summer days). Deb and I are Master Naturalist neophytes and as such we need to fulfill an inordinate amount of volunteer hours. I was thinking that all of my work with native plants through The Giving Gardens this year would suffice, but Deb decided I was counting butterflies with her too.

“Come on, I don’t have time for this! It’s our anniversary, my birthday…summer vacation for goodness sake! Jeez Deb, NO!” And, I gave her an even bigger NO when I found out it was a BYOTP situation. She signed me up anyway. Off we went.

I’m so happy that we did. For two days we walked transects of the Huron-Manistee National Forests searching for Karner blue butterflies. They’re the size of your thumbnail and they’re an endangered species. We found six in two days. While sweating to the point I could not stand to be with myself anymore, getting eaten by mosquitoes, and rockin’ a major sunburn with a pocket full of toilet paper, my eyes were opened.

This was the first time that I was not reading about an endangered species in a book, newspaper or on the internet. I was actually out there in the woods searching for them and I could almost count the ones we found on one hand. Their homes and their food are vanishing…We can do better.

The good news is that we can right our wrongs. Every little bit helps.

I now know what they like to eat (aka their “nectar sources”) horsemint, butterfly weed, and wild bergamot to name a few. I can plant them at home and at Giving Garden installation sites so that these plants spread and maybe somewhere, somehow one ends up with a Karner blue sitting on its blossom, eating.

I’m always so busy with life’s “stuff” that it’s easy to say NO. But every once in awhile it’s good to slow down, be perceptive, be receptive and maybe even count some butterflies so that I can do better and…

…say YES to a tiny being.

Female Karner Blue Butterfly- Top of Wings

Me, Megan (our fearless guide) & Deb
Yes, I ‘m completely aware that my camera strap is not in the best position,

thank you very much.