Saturday, September 6, 2008

Flying Free

Aside from some family and friends' consultations yesterday (one medical, one decorating and one sewing/alteration consultation), life has been ho-hum lately. I often wished for ho-hum when things were really hopping, but ho-hum makes blogging a challenge. So I'll bore you with vacation pictures!

One thing that TC and I experienced when we were on our trip east was the emergence of a whole huge crop of Spicebush Swallowtail butterflies. I think it was the late summer hatch that happened all in the same week, because everywhere we went in North Carolina/Virginia/West Virginia, we saw thousands and thousands of them. On this ridge on the Blue Ridge Parkway between the Smoky Mountain National Park and Asheville, NC., I'll bet there were a million butterflies. On each stalk of plant, there were at least 5-10 butterflies feeding, and you can imagine how many stalks would be growing on thousands of square miles of the Blue Ridge Mountains! It was an awesome sight.

You can easily see the reason why this area is named Blue Ridge, because ridge after blue-hued ridge shows itself like waves as you look out across the hundreds of miles of land which you can see from the high vantage points. This stretch of highway is about 90 miles long, and we couldn't guess which vantage point was the best to stop at, they were all so beautiful. The highest elevation in this area is about 6600' above sea level. Quite impressive when you realize the sea is about 400 miles away.

I was so curious about the butterflies that I bought a butterfly guide book at one of our visitor center stops. The guidebook called these blue, black, and orange beauties spicebush swallowtails. However, another breed of swallowtail which is better known, the tiger swallowtail, was another species we saw. It was odd, there was a yellow and black butterfly making quite sweet overtures to a black and blue and orange one. We thought we were witnessing some inter-species hanky panky, but the guide book told me the tiger swallowtail male is yellow and black and the black/blue/orange is the female. So they were just doing what the birds and bees and butterflies do, making little butterflies, and we were the nosy neighbors peeking through the blinds.

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