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The butterfly chronicles

OK, I know, with so many important topics to comment on, why am I writing this column on butterfly migration?

Why not, it’s something that goes unnoticed except by naturalists, environmentalists and scientists.

Butterflies have quietly gone about their business for millions of years, unlike noisier honeybees, and most species, including the familiar Monarch, are harmless, almost delicate.

I’ve spent quite a few cool summer evenings in my back yard observing at least two different species of butterflies “nectaring” around several flowering plants, including the recognizable Monarch and Swallowtail varieties.

They shared space and time with honeybees and at least one hummingbird, and I took time to sit at my picnic table and watch them mingle.

Enjoy them while you can, because Monarchs in particular have been scarce this summer across their breeding range.

According to one publication, the fall migration is now underway, and Halifax County appears to be on the periphery of the migration route from breeding grounds in the north.

The population hit a record low in Mexico last winter, with only 60 million Monarchs, according to the publication.

That number is 80 percent below the 350-million monarch average, with drought and excessive heat being the primary culprits.

Personally, I’ve seen as many butterflies this year as I ever have, so at least in my little neck of the woods they’re thriving, along with yellow jackets and the occasional black snake. 

Monarchs will be measured again early this winter when they arrive in Mexico, so keep your fingers crossed.