The Suitcase Lady


July 7, 2020, 10:28 am

The other morning, a red admiral, a mourning cloak, black and yellow swallowtails and numerous monarchs joined us for breakfast in our front yard. The butterflies dined on their preferred menu of nectar from our prairie plants while we had toast, granola and fruit. All of this fluttering about caused me to say aloud, “I wonder how many wings are flapping in and above our acre of land at any given moment?”

I’m sure the answer is a staggering number and one that could only be estimated. The bird wings could be counted; the insect wings would be impossible to total. Even the huge dragonflies that ply our airspace are not candidates for individual tracking. When a big hatch of them pepper our skies, their flight paths resemble those of helicopters gone berserk.

I envy all these winged creatures and often think how fabulous it would be to take off and soar through the skies. My flight envy often surfaces as we are watching the purple martins just before sunset. As the sun goes down, they are making their last round of the skies to scoop up bedtime snacks. The spectacular soaring, scooping and snacking continues for about fifteen minutes after the sun disappears below the horizon. Then the birds’ trajectories get lower. Each bird then makes a perfect bull’s eye entrance into its small hole in our Martin houses. There are no misses, no traffic jams…it’s a perfectly coordinated ballet in the sky, all done at super speed.

After the birds have all settled down for the night, the bats and moths claim the airspace. Seeing bats is a rare occurrence, and we wish we had more. But the moths with their fat, furry bodies and feathery antennae are everywhere. And, unlike butterflies who close their wings when they land, the moths keep their wings fully open when they settle.

There is one moth in particular which we would love to host. I have met a number of people who have found a huge Luna moth clinging to a screen door or window. They all say it is an unforgettable sight. These giant, lime green silk moths were given the name “Luna” because the eyespots on each of their four wings look like miniature moons. They have short lives as they never feed.

We humans may all be grounded at the moment, but we can soar vicariously by welcoming winged creatures into our yards.

2 Comments for this entry

  • Joan Bodden

    Hi Mary,I really enjoyed your blog, Wings. I too enjoy birds and butterflies. I don’t get too many birds because I lack the trees they like. I also find it difficult to take care of outside flowers. Have a great summer. The

  • evie robillard

    I keep an eye out for them . . .