Naturally Speaking: Butterflies, preserving property

Editor’s note: WELCOME TO NATURALLY SPEAKING WITH JOE DEREKGot a question? Please submit through the form below. 

Here are answers to two reader questions:

Question #1: Do Butterflies migrate or stay in one region?

As many of you know, the Monarch butterfly is well known for flying to areas of Canada and North
America for the summer and back down to the southern part of the U.S. and Mexico for the winter
months.

Eggs, newly hatched larvae
Butterfly eggs and newly hatched larvae. (Joe Derek)

Some butterflies that spend their lives in the south may travel from Florida to Texas and beyond. This will depend on the species of butterfly and how long it may live in one season or how many broods they produce. Depending on weather conditions, individual butterflies show up in other states on occasion.

Here in Michigan, southern butterflies can sometimes be seen in late summer, especially in the counties that border Ohio and Indiana. After supplying nectar sources for the adults and plants for the caterpillars, you may attract species to your yard that you have never seen before.

Male adult swallowtail on lantana
Male adult swallowtail on lantana. (Joe Derek)

Here in the metro Detroit area, we are at the northernmost range for the Pipe Vine Swallowtail butterfly. The Pipevine (Aristolocia Durior) in our yard, which we planted over a dozen years ago, has attracted this swallowtail the last two summers.

Female pipevine swallowtail laying eggs
Female swallowtail laying eggs. (Joe Derek)

We have had a number of them survive from egg to adult butterfly, which has provided me with many photo opportunities.

Question #2: How do we preserve a piece of wooded land up for sale in our community?

You have mentioned the land has a high-water table, so not much interest from buyers. Here are some of my thoughts:

  • Saving any form of nature is being a good steward.
  • Discuss with your neighbors if everyone would like to own their own nature preserve by
    purchasing it.
  • If the price was right, you could look into a possibility of having a conservation easement put on the property if purchased. This can be done through one of the nature organizations. If I remember correctly, you own the land but it cannot be developed. It must remain in its natural state.
  • Make it a private preserve and speak to an environmental attorney about liability. You do not want people trampling around what you have tried to save. Save nature for nature. Also, have rules that all of you will agree to so all aspects of the land are protected into the future. You and your neighbors could enhance the area with native plants, bird nest boxes, butterfly attracting plants, etc.

People around the country and the world are undertaking endeavors like this to save a piece of our natural world. If you can buy it, you can save it. Natural land that you save would improve the environment around you. If this land were developed, some animals would move and some would die.

Good Luck!

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