Fifteen minutes

Fifteen minutes is a short slice of time. It is the increment used in Britain’s Big Butterfly Count, held in 2018 for its ninth year. People are encouraged to sit in a sunny spot (as in their garden), and inventory (identify and count) butterflies during that interval. As the linked article states, significant crowd-sourced data is recorded – in 2017 half a million butterflies were counted by 60,000 people.  Besides the data, another benefit related to one’s mental health emanates from the experience. One may choose to not worry about counting, but just notice these charismatic insects in flight. 

I have taken in a few sessions myself. I did not take note of my watch, or count, but did indulge a few photos of cooperative butterflies, particularly a Gulf fritillary, and giant swallowtail.  

More species flitted around – sulfurs, skippers, and other swallowtails. The elegance of the individuals was matched by the beauty of the moment. On later visits to my garden, I returned to these moments of observing. Besides other species of butterflies, hummingbirds and dragonflies flew throughout the garden. Our abundant July rains brought two immense August hatchings: first mosquitoes, and then an amphibian assault – thousands of hopping tiny (less than .25 inch) toads. With many amphibian species under threat of extinction (see The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert), this toad proliferation pushed against that overall trend. 


7 thoughts on “Fifteen minutes

  1. David Attenborough is a great man. I have watched many of his series on TV.
    Life is precious no matter how small. Sadly, I don’t see the Butterflys here in Pennsylvania like I did as a kid.

    On a happier note, we will be in Myrtle Beach next week!

  2. 🙂 just sitting quietly and observing the natural world around me is refreshing. Add in “hummers”, butterflies etc. is restorative. g

    • Ah yes, restoration.
      I assume you have had a bumper crop of mosquitoes in McClellanville recently. Toads too?

      • 🙂 Actually no to both questions. Have never had the toads here as I remember having at RR! Wow.. could not walk without stepping on some of the little things! But no such event here. Our mosquitos have been the small ones that breed in water pockets in trees etc. We had over 18″ of rain in July which more than doubled the total for the year..

  3. I think that’s a palamedes swallowtail on the lantana~ which is so exciting, because their numbers are dwindling as their host plant, the red bay, falls victim to ambrosia beetles. I love this post, and am also so excited by the incredible number of frogs and toads that have proliferated this summer! Thanks for such a sweet reminder to grab 15 minutes and observe!

    • Thanks for that correction on the ID of the swallowtail, Judy, and good hearing from you. These palamedes swallowtails are regularly in our garden, and do like the lantana. Are you seeing them on Dewees?

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