Subheading: The Monarch and the Tuxedo Cat
I thought last Tuesday would start like most Tuesdays, of late, dear friends: wake up earlyish and be at the arboretum to work with the plants. Boots is one of the neighborhood cats who frequently patrols the place and has incredibly pronounced tuxedo coloring. Boots seems to be on good terms with Star, though (our only indoor/outdoor feline), and often they’re seen sitting companiably in the yard, keeping a watchful eye on each other. This is the account of how I met a lovely monarch butterfly, I will heretofore refer to as Flutter.
*Initial account written at the time of the event. Reflection and editing done later.
I’m about to head in now, but about an hour ago, I was eating a bagel and looked out the window to see one of the neighborhood cats playing with a monarch. On a positive, they weren't being aggressive with the butterfly. However, a curious cat, however gentle can still cause immense damage to the small, fragile body of a butterfly. Think a potential Edward Scissorhands petting a plushie moment. Not assured doom, but not entirely promising.
All I could see from the house was a butterfly slowly moving its wings, distinctive monarch coloring prominently displayed. Boots was rather intrigued by this flappy creature, as would any sensible feline.
I took the last half of my bagel out and slowly walked over to them, Boots backing away as I got closer. As I sat down on the brickwork and finished my breakfast, I noticed Flutter slowly making the jaunt over closer to me. I don’t know if it was simply in response to Boots backing off or sensing my intent to help, like some creatures can. Maybe both. Maybe neither.
By the time the half a bagel was finished, Flutter was practically under my leg (there is a gap between the brick and the grass), until I put my hand down to invite my new friend up.
During each slow flap, I noticed a piece of green stuck to my little friend’s thorax, right at the base of those brilliant wings. Turns out, a bit of plant material (sedum, of some description, I believe), had broken off and gotten tangled in the little critter’s downy fuzz. For anyone curious or in need of information on how to deal with such a situation, I ended up using a pair of hemostat forceps to carefully grip and remove the intruding greenery. Be patient and move slowly, lest you agitate or frighten your little friend.
It also appeared, both from the monarch’s somewhat lethargic movement and one of the little dude’s wings being crumpled (you should be able to see it in the image), especially the back wing on that side, that this particular critter was newly-emerged from a chrysalis. Consequently, even a bit of plant matter as small as that was could heavily impact a creature as small as a butterfly. I didn’t feel comfortable leaving my friend in the garden with that still stuck though.
I looked up the chrysalis process, as I was aware that butterflies needed to let their wings extend and dry. After the sedum was removed, Flutter’s balance seemed to vastly improve and the little dude was able to climb better. At that point, I transferred my charge to our only currently blooming milkweed. Flutter seemed rather happy with the change of locale and last I saw was quite enjoying hanging in a relatively protected sunny spot, letting those wings fully extend.
I don’t know what became of my little friend, but I can say with certainty that I didn’t see Flutter there when I returned later that day, nor have I seen any monarchs around the property since. Also, for those not aware, monarch butterflies are poisonous to all but a few select species. Consequently, I highly doubt anything went after the little critter. I look forward to seeing more of these beautiful creatures though.
Feel free to share any similar stories in the comments. I look forward to reading them.
Till next time,