RIO GRANDE VALLEY, Texas — Clouds of butterflies are swirling thru the Rio Grande Valley as recent rains have spurred luxuriant flowering and triggered an extraordinary emergence of butterflies.
Butterflies thrive on nectar and lay their eggs on plants so that the larvae will have something to eat after hatching. Abundant rainfall from Hurricane Hanna several weeks ago produced plentiful plant growth, which provided a bonanza of food for butterflies to prosper.
Within a week of the drenching rains, ebony trees were among the first to respond with prolific blooms. After just a few days, the ebony flowers vanished, and cenizo or purple sage took center stage with lavish displays throughout the chaparral.
Next up anaqua and anacahuita or Wild olive burst forth, and as if on cue hundreds of thousands of butterflies appeared for the flowery feast.
This blooming crucillo appears to quiver with hundreds of snout butterflies breakfasting on enchantingly fragrant delicate white flowers.
Even the ground in certain places hosts hordes of butterflies as they seek nutrients from the soil.
Nature has programmed a fascinating succession of flowering following soaking rains, as native trees cede to lavish spreads of lantana and a variety of flowering forbs.
A sheltered sendero reveals myriad rich orange blooms of lantana glittering with morning dew. Queen butterflies flock to the flowery offering, as do Gulf fritillaries opening and closing their wings in rhythmic symmetry while nectaring on blossoms of similar hue to their glistening wings.
Perched nearby is a tropical leafwing that appears content to leisurely bask in the sun before lifting off to join the morning breakfast club.
It is a wonderful time of year to enjoy the South Texas outdoors, and you do not have to travel to distant wildlands to appreciate bountiful blooms and butterflies as you can enjoy them right in your own backyard.