Look at this breathtaking little critter that was flitting around our property today.
If it understands English, it knows that it is as welcome as any bug that ever flew. I kept babbling to it how happy I am that it's back and how I couldn't be more thrilled to see it. Poor little thing had to put up with about 40 shots, but didn't seem to object. Almost seemed a little posing was going on there. Then I got to wondering if it wasn't way too soon for it to be here, and if this was just another reminder that climate change is altogether too real. But I did a little research and discovered Iowa State University's Red Admiral and Painted Lady Research Site. Turns out it's not unusual to see them in Iowa from mid to late April to late September or early November. I also saw a posting that there's a large number of them moving north even as far as Minnesota right now. Anyway, the time to wander the place looking for bugs is back. And it won't be too long before things start blooming. Dandelions are off to a good start, and I found lupine and wild bergamot (I think) popping up.
And to think I used to dread summer... We're getting closer to opening our store here on pollinatinglife.com. A lot of experimenting and creating going on around here. My obsession right now is to perfect making wildflower seed-embedded paper. We bought some lovely stuff from a California outfit, but I'm not happy with the seed mix, so I went to Seed Savers just down the road and got a mesic mix (perrenial) that's pretty flexible on whether it's in dry or wet soil. Now I just have to find a screened frame that will hold up to being wet and pressed all the time. I've also been making a lot of jewelry lately. It's all pollinator themed, and I'm hoping people will find it attractive enough that it can help spread our message. Here's an example:
Bees in the Echinacea. Sterling silver and ruby zoisite.
The jewelry will be enfolded in our rustic, handmade, 100% recycled paper embedded with the Seed Savers' mix and tied with hemp cord. The seed list and planting instructions will be included.
And finally, my new setup for my monarch babes:
This'll make it so much easier for me to keep track of instars, pupation dates, likely emergence, etc. It'll also simplify keeping track of data I'll be collecting for the University of MN on parasitoids and the University of Georgia on the protozoan parasite Ophryocystis elektroschirrha (OE). I'm wondering how many monarchs we'll see in the coming months - the number overwintering in Mexico was down about 25% this year. All the more reason to get out there and see what I can find. Happy spring!