The first of October and there they are, right on schedule. They flitter and flutter, lighting here and there, searching for something. One thing can be said for them, they are stunning. Their colors stand out against a rather bland world that has had the life and moisture sucked out of it all summer. Even the coastal fog wasn't enough to keep the grass green. The bushes endure, the flowers survive, but none sport the intensity of hue that these welcome visitors bring to us.
The Monarchs have returned.
You wonder as you look at them if their base color is black and the brilliant orange is laid on top of it? Or is it the orange that covers the flitting wings and the black lines are painted over it in different patterns? And are these lines the same on each or do they sport their own unique markings? We know the color is important, sending a definite signal to any who would have the audacity to try and gobble them up. "I taste BAD!" it says. Somehow most birds know this. The ones who don't, soon find out.
Today they fly from plant to plant and tree to tree with vigor. They glow and shine and whirl around each other. Courtship? Yes, I think so. What will this lead to? Sometime in months to come, somewhere else far away, eggs will be laid, and eventually a chubby, squiggly, wormy, many-legged critter with a voracious appetite will emerge. It too is colorful, bright yellow and black. It too carries the same message that its parents did. "Don't eat me! I am NOT tasty."
And then the day comes and everything changes for the youngsters. They crawl away into their own spin and sleep. Time passes. On a bright sunny day they wriggle free, flex their orange and black wings, and take off on their epic journey.
On a crisp October morning, we glance out the kitchen window and an orange flash is spotted and there they are, right on time. The Monarchs have returned.