Return of the Monarch

tiger moth
AS I enter pushing the collapsible gate I see them sitting (or is it squatting) on the tiny branch, as if forming a queue waiting for tickets on a booking window. I stretch my hand towards them and closing my fingers try to catch one but pull it away, unwilling to disturb my annual visitors. They are unaffected by my being around: drugged by the nectar, is it. I leave them considering they will be here, just for a brief while. A month and a half at the most.
They’re back in my humble farm feasting on the goodies the Rattlepod (Crotalaria) plant offers. And if my observation is right they’re likely to be here till end January, when the flowers wither away and the seed-pods make their appearance. The seed-pods split at maturity to release small kidney-shaped seeds.
My Man Friday, Mangal, tells me that they arrive in droves once the sun appears on the horizon. As the day advances their numbers become sparse. The dawn, a signal to these winged wonders that its time to go in search of nectar.
What surprises me that it’s only the Monarch butterfly of the Nymphalidae family that visits the plant? Why not others? Will check it out with lepidopterist friend Peter Smetacek.
Ever since I came to know that it’s a legume and fixes valuable nitrogen into my soil I’ve dispelled the thought of uprooting it though aware that it’s toxic, both to animals and us.


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