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A Butterfly Whisperer…by Jeanne Marie

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Many of you have read about my Dutchman’s Pipe plant and you have seen pictures of the incredible blooms on my Women Who Think Too Much blog.  I have written about how hundreds of the caterpillars ate the entire plant the first spring and there was only one little string of plant left when they had finished nibbling. The caterpillars creeped me out at first, but then I took a closer look and I realized that they are amazing. Dark cocoa brown with little orange spikes and you can even see their tiny faces if you get close enough. The second year, I had hundreds of caterpillars again and I had to decide if I should spray the tree or let the butterflies live. If you know me, you know what I did. I let the caterpillars live on the vines and I took thousands of pictures… I planned to buy a new plant but incredibly, the entire plant grew back and it tripled in size by the second spring. This is the third year that I’ve had the Dutchman’s Pipe and the plant is huge, wrapped around and between two trees, about six feet up and yes, the caterpillars are on it and they are happy and plump. The butterfly mamas are Goldrim Swallowtails and in the past three years, I have never been able to get a picture. I whisper to them all the time as they tease me and do their flutter-byes. “Come here baby, come here baby, let me get your picture, please just one picture.” That sweet talk works with the Monarchs and the Bohemian butterflies, but it has never worked with the Goldrim Swallowtails. The other day I was out front taking pictures of the hot pink Crepe Myrtle and a huge Goldrim Swallowtail was giving me flitter-byes. I looked at it and I said, “Do you think you that you could hold still and at least let me get one picture before I move? It’s the least you can do because every spring, I let you eat my entire plant.” Well I wasn’t given the pleasure of a picture that day; but today, I was out front and closing up my yard sale when I saw what looked like the same butterfly again. I whispered to it a little more loudly this time, “Please butterfly, please come over here and hold still! Let me just get one picture before I move.” My friend Michelle Marie gave me the title of Butterfly Whisperer, and even though I have enjoyed the title, I wasn’t quite sure if the butterflies were posing for me on purpose or by coincidence. They did come over and pose when I called to them and they would come hold onto my screens on the porch and hang there looking right at me. They especially love it when I’m on the phone. The geckos do the same thing but that’s another story. The butterflies will hold still for a photo shoot and then they get back to their cute flutter-byes. They like to flutter all around me and sometimes right in front of my face. I love it. Now you can believe the rest of this tale or not and I will say this…I now believe with my whole heart that I am a Butterfly Whisperer. So today, the Goldrim Swallowtail flittered all around me and I followed it over to the Dutchman’s Pipe. It began to sit on different leaves and I followed it, taking a video because I never dreamed I would get a picture. Well, I did I get a picture, a lot of pictures and this from a butterfly who has never come near me and has never held still on any plant. I could not believe what was happening! I just started clicking pictures while I was still in video mode. Not all of the pictures came out clear, but I did get some beauties. My heart was pounding and I was smiling throughout the entire photo shoot because now I know…Michelle Marie you’re right. I am a Butterfly Whisperer.

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http://womenwhothinktoomuch.com/2013/07/25/my-strange-caterpillars-will-be/
http://womenwhothinktoomuch.com/2013/09/09/butterfly-returns-to-the-scene-of-murder/