By Marie Meis
Elgin Review Intern
Looking outside this past week, you’ve probably noticed something different about the landscape. There are the typical things that come along with this time of year, such as leaves turning colors and it getting cooler out, but this year there has been a noticeable spike in migrating butterflies.
Beth Miller, a local nature enthusiast, commented on her interest in the butterflies, “Ever since I was in grade school and saw my first monarch migration have I been intrigued with the inner workings of these fragile but powerful little insects.”
You may have assumed by their color they are monarch butterflies, but they are actually called painted lady butterflies. The spike is believed to have come from California, where the painted ladies first start their migration. There has been an abundance of rain in California this year, creating more flowering plants for nectar which in turn boosted butterfly numbers.
This is Miller’s first observation of the painted ladies and she explains what she has learned from them, “I’ve noticed they are attracted to my American Elm trees which are the homes to aphids and the honey dew they give off. I don’t know if the painted ladies enjoy the sap/dew or if they just enjoy the large leafy safety net the Elms provide.”
Miller has utilized programs put out by the Nebraska Game and Parks about how to get involved in the preservation of our pollinators.
She has participated in things such as planting seeds that will provide future food for butterflies and watching Red Road Herbs present their Wings & Weeds butterfly release.
Miller seeks out opportunities to observe nature with her family, “My children and I enjoy observing the butterflies on our Autumn Sedum which is in full bloom and many of the other pollinator attractant plants we’ve purposely planted in the last few years.
Pollination is a very important part of our natural food sources so it’s important to show the next generations how to support and protect our pollinators.”
Beth Miller is a great example for those interested in nature and especially local pollinators. Even if you don’t possess as strong of an interest, the butterflies have been quite a site for everyone this year.
As Miller said, “I think we’re pretty blessed to see three migrations in the last 3 years. Monarchs in 2015, dragonflies in 2016, and painted ladies in 2017. I think Elgin is a pretty inviting town to all sorts of newcomers, the two-legged and six-legged kind!”
By Marie Meis