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Summer 2013 Retrospective: Winged Jewels That Passed My Way

August 31st, 2013 by Michael Dyet

Hmmm, will we learn our lessons well enough to protect the irreplaceable gift of nature’s winged jewels?

The page on the calendar will roll over to September tomorrow. And while summer doesn’t officially end until September 21, for most of us it feels like the season is behind us. So it seems the right time for a retrospective of my summer ramblings in search of butterflies.

June 30, Palgrave Conservation Area: The orange flash of Great Spangled Fritillary scooting by is always a thrill even though it is quite common. This picture-perfect specimen is one of the most striking I have seen. Lesson learned: There are degrees of perfection in nature of which we only occasionally catch glimpses.

Great Spangled Fritillary

July 13, Caledon Trail: This striking Baltimore Checkerspot, a “lifer” for me, was one of my summer highlights. It’s known to be scarce in this area. Was it perhaps blown north by the epic and destructive rain storm on July 8? Lesson learned: Even the destructive forces of nature have silver linings.

Baltimore Checkerspot

July 28, Hilton Falls Conservation Area: This elegant and gracefully adorned Gray Comma brightened up an usually cool July day. It’s another species in the scarce category and difficult to identify without a very good look. This one was unusually cooperative. Lesson learned: Nature responds with her sweeter graces to those who are respectful and patient.

Gray Comma

August 4, Terra Cotta Conservation Area: Monarch butterflies were scarce this summer. But Viceroys, which have evolved to mimic Monarchs, seemed eager to stand in for them. This gorgeous mating pair was the highlight of another chilly summer day. Lesson learned: We can ill afford to lose any of nature’s creatures when they are this breathtaking.

Mating Viceroys

These are just a few of the jewels that passed my way this summer. Butterflies continue to be a source of endless fascination for me. There are metaphors for the abundance of nature – but also for its fragility.

Monarch butterfly populations crashed this year for several reasons. (A subject for another post.) I worry that my winged creatures may not be resilient enough to withstand our ecological footprint on our planet. I’m not sure I could live without them. I hope I never have to find out.

~ Michael Robert Dyet is the author of “Until the Deep Water Stills –an Internet-enhanced Novel” – double winner in the Reader Views Literary Awards 2009. Visit Michael’s website at or the novel online companion at

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