This Easter, the trees are alive with Blue Tiger Butterflies, well our backyard Melaleuca is anyway.
When I saw all of these beautiful butterflies in our quite old but remarkable paperbark tree, I started to see them everywhere throughout our garden, and even when I was out walking with Locky our dog in our neighbourhood. I found myself thinking about the collateral beauty in our lives that we all need to be focusing on now to get us through these difficult times. It just might help. When we lose someone or something precious to us or just forget about our ego, and the need for commercialism in our lives, we can try to think of the beauty of the things we actually have but sometimes are difficult to actually see. That is the collateral beauty in our lives.
Mr. HRK took these photos and I thought I would share them with you as this is quite a remarkable butterfly event. For a start, we haven't seen our tree flower like this for a couple of years, which is all out of sync. We have never seen such a migration of this butterfly to this extent before either. After a little bit of research, we discovered the Blue Tiger Butterfly is migrating North to a warmer climate for the Winter. We are obviously in their flight path though as they are settling in, at least whilst our tree is in flower. Breeding is during the warmer months, and is generally timed to coincide with the wet season when new growth on the host vines is available for the caterpillars to eat. Makes sense doesn't it?
The caterpillars have evaded being eaten by the birds and other predators whilst down south, as the butterflies breed on a plant poisonous to birds but not to them, so the birds leave them alone. The main host plants for this butterfly are the Corky Milk Vine and the Mangrove Milk vine. The sap of the milky vines is toxic and the larvae feed on the toxic plants but are able to store the toxins in their systems making them unpalatable to their predators. Consequently they often survive for months and are able to migrate to coastal North Queensland en masse. I wonder if they will make it to Cairns.
Isn't nature amazing?
When I was gazing up at them yesterday, I could also hear a faint buzzing from our bees, which are also enjoying the nectar of the beautiful flowers. There is plenty for everybody however it is much easier to see the butterflies than it is to see the bees amongst all of the foliage. Our beehive isn't far from this tree at all.
Below is a photo of the Orchard Swallow Tail which is also gracing our garden at present. However it is more of a loner than it's tropical neighbour, the Blue Tiger. I suspect though that it's larvae is guilty of demolishing some of the leaves on our citrus tree and more ornamental plants. She is quite beautiful though isn't she?
Thanks for dropping by and I hope you enjoyed reading my amateurish but well meaning attempt to bring you an interesting story from our garden. I am mainly a food and travel writer, but sometimes a nice garden story presses the right buttons as well and I always learn something. I hope you have as well. If you have some extra information to add to this story, I would love to hear it.
I hope you can find the time to enjoy the collateral beauty around you today in these challenging Covid 19 times.
Warmest Easter wishes