Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Mitzi and the Skippers

Mitzi loves the painted lady butterfly explosion we've been having this month.  I kept calling them "skippers," but that's another type of butterfly.  But they do "skip" from air to land and back again, which makes them very fun.

She loves to go outside and stalk them.  They seem to be very tame creatures, and get very close to people--and animals. Recently, on sunny days, there's always one fluttering around--or sometimes even two, doing a little butterfly air pas-de-deux right there in our airspace.  They go by so close, I can hear their wings rustle.  So they provide a lot of excitement.

Recently, Mitzi wants to go outside just about any time the sun is out (butterfly weather).  Out she goes into the middle of the yard and sits there, looking around.  She looks very silly and sedentary.
But when a painted lady flutters by, as they often do on sunny days, she goes after it!  She'll wait until it lights on something, then she creeps through the grass until she's within springing distance, wiggles her hindquarters, and springs towards the butterfly.  Usually it gets away easily.

Other times, the butterfly will be inaccessible, but visible.  This makes her a bit nutty, like when she saw one on the thermometer by the sliding doors.  It was probably five feet above her head, but she fixated on it, eyes wide, ears perked.  She made that chattering sound that cats make when they see prey, but she knew she couldn't get it.

She has had some luck with butterfly stalking.  I've seen her bat at them if they were flying close to her. And once I saw her with a butterfly in her mouth. She opened her mouth a bit (to get a better grip?) and it flew off.  I'm guessing she doesn't really want to eat them; it's all about the hunt.

I think the butterflies are on the grass quite often because they're getting minerals from the soil.  Then some of them alight on sunny spots and spread out their wings.  Are they sunbathing?  

The other day, I was sitting on the patio, and a butterfly (or more than one?) kept alighting on my knitting bag--the bag was sitting in the sun, as was I.  Later, a butterfly alighted on my hand as I was poised to knit the next row of my project.  I held very still and it rested there for a while, soft as a kiss.  I called to Mitzi, but she was in the middle of the yard, and didn't turn around.