A writer inspired by nature and human nature

Archive for the ‘Butterfly migration’ Category

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HAPPY WEED APPRECIATION DAY—I’m Celebrating”Milkweed for Monarch Butterflies”


Weed Appreciation Day, March 28—is on its way—and so are those amazing monarch butterflies! It’s the perfect time of year to plant milkweed to ensure the survival of these endangered butterflies as they embark on the journey north from wintering grounds in Mexico. My limerick tells a bit about the monarchs’ dependence upon milkweed. The photo of his female monarch (Danaus plexippus) on a milkweed plant (Asclepias syriaca) was taken in my garden in Central Maine, where milkweed plants flourish and monarchs can find the perfect leaves to lay their eggs under each summer. Read on to find out more about milkweed and the crucial relationship this native plant shares with monarchs and how you can help these endangered butterflies by planting milkweed in your own backyard.

Why Do Monarch Butterflies Need Milkweed?

  • Milkweed is the host plant for monarch butterflies. Monarchs have a dynamic relationship with plants in the milkweed family and are completely dependent on them for reproduction. Butterflies are the reproductive phase of their life cycle. Females lay their eggs on the undersides of milkweed leaves because when the eggs hatch and the caterpillars emerge, their only source of food is the foliage of milkweed plants. The growing caterpillars feed on the leaves until they are ready to form a chrysalis and metamorphose into adult butterflies.

Mating of monarch butterflies has begun and the orange and black butterflies are flying north. Along the way, females will lay eggs on milkweed plants, recolonizing the southern United States before they die. The first spring caterpillars will hatch and metamorphose into adults. These newly emerged monarchs colonize their parents original homes. Summer monarchs live only three to five weeks compared with the eight or nine months for overwintering adults. During the summer, three or four generations of monarch butterflies will emerge, and before summer ends there will be millions of monarchs all over the United States and southern Canada.

You can play an important role in the survival of  monarch butterflies by planting the correct native variety of milkweed in your yard or garden. Learn how to create a Monarch Waystation in your own backyard and report your monarch sightings too. Helping our monarch butterflies is a great service project for families, community groups and schools. Contact Monarch Watch (an educational outreach based at the University of Kansas): www.monarchwatch.org

About the author 

Inspired by nature and human nature, author Bette A. Stevens is a retired elementary and middle school teacher, a wife, mother of two and grandmother of five. Stevens lives in Central Maine with her husband on their 37-acre farmstead where she enjoys reading, writing, gardening, walking and reveling in the beauty of nature. She advocates for children and families, for childhood literacy and for the conservation of monarch butterflies—an endangered species (and for milkweed, the only plant that monarch caterpillars will eat).

Stevens is the author of AMAZING MATILDA, an award-winning picture book adventure that follows the life cycle of a monarch butterfly; The Tangram Zoo and Word Puzzles Too!, a home/school resource  incorporating hands-on math and writing; and PURE TRASH, the short story prequel to her début novel, DOG BONE SOUP—coming-of-age story and family drama set in 1950s and 60s New England.

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Have an Amazing New Year! (+poem by Bette A. Stevens)


May your New Year be Amazing
as a Monarch Butterfly

May your days be blessed and beautiful

May your nights, sweet dreams supply

May your New Year be amazing

As a monarch butterfly

Wishing all of you and our amazing monarch butterflies…
“An Amazing New Year!”

~Bette A. Stevens, Maine author

All About Monarchs

Monarch butterflies offer an amazing view into the intricate nature of the wild. Their science name, Danaus Plexippus, Greek for “Sleepy Transformation,” gets part of the story right, but not the epic whole. International conservation efforts to protect and restore monarch habitat are ongoing. These efforts may help improve the near-endangered/endangered status of the species; but we, as ordinary citizens, can easily help the monarch butterfly recovery right in our own backyards and gardens. Find out more at the links below.

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Complex intelligence ~


Oh, the wonder of it all… ~Bette A. Stevens, Maine author http://www.4writersandreaders.com

“There is a difference between our wisdom and nature’s simplicity. That reflects the burden of a complex intelligence…” Click the original post to read the entire quote by Alison Hawthorne Deming

Maverick Mist

There is a difference between our wisdom and nature's simplicity. That reflects the burden of a complex intelligence. A complex intelligence like ours is impotent compared to the intelligence of a monarch butterfly migrating from Canada to Mexico, or the intelligence of hummingbirds that have co-evolved with the flowers all along their migration route. That seems so simple; it just happens, it just unfolds. — Alison Hawthorne Deming

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Celebrate EARTH DAY with a Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ Monarch Butterfly eBook—ONLY 99¢ Limited Time (April 22-28)


HAPPY EARTH DAY!

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Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ Monarch butterflies are a threatened species. The Center for Biological Diversity and the Center for Food Safety filed a legal petition requesting Endangered Species Act protection for the monarch and its habitat.

AMAZING MATILDA written and illustrated by Maine author Bette A. Stevens:

~Click MATILDA’s cover to take a “Look Inside” on YOUR AMAZON~

“Award-winning picture book adventure follows a monarch butterfly through her life cycle and teaches kids important life lessons along the way!”

About the book

AMAZING MATILDA (Ages 5-11 + grownups love it too) Friendship, patience and persistence are among the lessons learned in this gem of a tale featuring an amazing monarch butterfly. This award-winning picture book adventure follows the monarch’s life cycle as Matilda embarks on a quest to make her dream of flying come true. Matilda emerges from her egg on a milkweed leaf, she stretches and yawns and wants to fly. Sparrow tells her to follow her dreams. Toad and Rabbit laugh at a creature without wings who wants to fly. You’ll be as amazed as Toad and Rabbit, as you follow Matilda from egg to imago.

DOWNLOAD a copy of AMAZING MATILDA by Bette A. Stevens (ONLY 99¢ April 22th–April 28th )—award-winning monarch butterfly picture book— at YOUR AMAZON

Love Monarch Butterflies?

BEYOND THE   BOOK—find resources at your finger tips: Have fun and learn even more about Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ monarch butterflies by downloading Bette’s FREE Click here: FUN & LEARNING with Monarch Butterflies PDF where you’ll find:

  • Monarch Facts
  • Coloring Pages
  • Crafts
  • Gardening
  • Video: How to Make an Origami Butterfly
  • Butterfly Teacher Guide and so much more…
  • FIND OUT how you can help protect our Amazing Monarchs

 Find out more about Maine author/illustrator Bette A. Stevens and her books:

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1267. The air is different today; the wind sings with a new tone sighing of changes coming as barbarous summer dies… ~Edited and adapted line by Rhawk


Our amazing Monarchs are migrating to Mexico. Only spotted four here at The Farmstead in Central Maine this July and August. October’s calling, “Collect those milkweed pods. Save the seeds to plant and feed next year’s amazing Monarchs.” ~ Bette A. Stevens, Maine author http://www.4writersandreaders.com

Sacred Touches

“I grow old, I grow old,”
the garden says.
It’s nearly October.
~Robert Finch

Screen Shot 2016-09-30 at 8.32.29 PM.png

The gentian’s bluest fringes
Are curling in the sun;
In dusty pods the milkweed
Its hidden silk has spun.

The sedges flaunt their harvest,
In every meadow nook;
And asters by the brook-side
Make asters in the brook,

From dewy lanes at morning
The grapes’ sweet odors rise;
At noon the roads all flutter
With yellow butterflies.

By all these lovely tokens
September days were here…
~Adapted part of a poem
by Helen Hunt Jackson

All things must come to an end and I can’t say I’m sorry to see summer finally go! We’ve had some lovely cool mornings of late and warm, honeyed afternoons, not hot but warm, and that is such a relief! I pray that as we welcome October tomorrow, this is the way we’ll continue be blessed in the coming days. And…

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SENSATIONAL SUMMER: A Monarch Butterfly Poem by Bette A. Stevens


Illustrations for Sensational Summer are from Bette's award-winning children's picure book, AMAZING MATILDA.

Illustrations for the poem “Sensational Summer” are from Bette’s award-winning children’s picture book, AMAZING MATILDA.

Much like a Monarch butterfly, the summer is quickly flying past us here at The Farmstead in Central Maine. In fact, it won’t be long before these amazing butterflies begin their great southern migration to Mexico, where they’ll aggregate (cluster in dense tree cover) to keep warm, enabling this generation of monarchs to winter over before they mate and begin the next generation’s migration north for the 2017 season.  Matilda (a Monarch butterfly and the main character in my picture book AMAZING MATILDA) and I wish you and yours a sensational summer! ~ Bette A. Stevens, Maine author/illustrator 

We invite you to take a look inside AMAZING MATILDA, A Monarch’s Tale and check out other books by Bette A. Stevens

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Threats to Monarch Butterflies and How We Can Help


Monarch butterflies—find out more about these amazing pollinators! ~ Bette A. Stevens, Maine author/illustrator and advocate for Monarch butterflies http://www.4writersandreaders.com

La Paz Group

A Monarch butterfly caterpillar feeding on the leaves of a milkweed plant. Photographed at the Grapevine Botanical Gardens. Photo © TexasEagle/Flickr through a Creative Commons license, via TNC

We’ve covered monarch butterflies plenty of times in the past, whether it was reporting survey results showing that many households in the US would pay to help create habitat for the species, showcasing a citizen science project by the Xerces Society to count the winged invertebrates during their migration, or simply highlighting the needs of the orange butterfly in general and how to become involved. Now, given increased media coverage of the Monarch, the Cool Green Science blog for The Nature Conservancy is summarizing hazards and helpers of the species:

Twenty years ago, monarch butterflies occupied so much area in Mexico during the winter you could see it from space. It totaled about 20 hectares, or almost 50 acres, with…

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