All Creatures Rare and Small


Monarch on my Butterfly Bush.

I felt lucky today, just before 1 p.m., when I happened to glance out my front door and saw a Monarch Butterfly visiting my older and larger Butterfly Bush.

Granted, a visit by a Monarch on a summer day in Iowa is not exactly rare–‒indeed, the banner image of my blog is a Monarch I shot several years ago with a little point-and-shoot camera in my garden.

But, this has been a very odd summer, and I have not seen usual things and have seen things that are unusual. Although I have noticed several Monarchs around Cedar Rapids, for some reason they have not been visiting my garden as often as in the past.


Side view of lady as she drinks.

So, I was pleased to see this little lady, the first of her kind to grace my yard this year that I know of, and to take her picture. I also shot the butt of a bumblebee as it flew away from me, and a nearby common visitor, a Red Admiral butterfly. For the record, I don’t try to take bee butt pictures, it just flew away as I was clicking the shutter.

As I shot these visitors, common and uncommon, I saw on the nearby, smaller Butterfly Bush something that really sent shivers up my spine.

It was a Honey Bee.

Yes, some family members are allergic and I react badly to Honey Bee stings, but that wasn’t why I was all agog at the sight of this little lady. (Of course, all worker bees are girls. As some readers of my blog might conjecture, that rule that the productive work is done by females seems to hold true for humans, too). It’s just that it seems like years since I’ve seen a dainty lady of this type in my own yard. Honey Bees were a common feature of my childhood in both Iowa and California, but these European imports have become scarcer in recent years, due to general hive collapse.

And, here she was, drinking nectar from my flowers like she does it every day. Well, you’re welcome to it, little bee, and may you tell your coworkers where these sweet flowers are found.

Honey Bee

Tiny, brown, sweet sacks on rear legs visible–Honey Bee!

I don’t know why certain insects have positive personalities, while others are mostly creepy. We like most butterflies, but can be disturbed by moths. A bee is a friendly flower visitor, but a wasp puts us on edge. I am a little intimidated by bumblebees, which looks very menacing and make lots of noise—but, honestly, I don’t think a bumblebee has ever harmed me, and I’ve suffered several painful Honey Bee stings. Yet the Honey Bee just makes me happy to see, compared to its native counterpart.

Saturday was even National Honey Bee Day, so maybe this was just a late pretty party bee.

Well, whatever. I enjoyed seeing these garden visitors, both the Monarch and the Honey Bee, and even as the summer season comes to an end, and the Monarch gets ready for a long trip south and the Honey Bee gets ready to hole up in a hive, I’ll be hoping to catch a few more glimpses of them while I can.


1 Comment

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One response to “All Creatures Rare and Small

  1. Pat

    I keep getting plants for Mimi’s yard (it’s big, and can accommodate them). Seeing your pictures makes me glad the total includes four butterfly bushes!

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