Of Butterflies and Bidets

California Dogface Butterfly (Zerene eurydice)

You wouldn’t think those two things had anything in common, but as it happens, both presented new and delightful arrivals in my life since my last post. Let’s start in the garden….

Two New Butterfly Sightings

Having been captivated by an unknown pair of wings in the garden recently, and standing in mesmerized stillness with phone camera at the ready, I was only vaguely aware that my spouse was trying to talk to me about something. I still don’t remember what it was, for, before me was the California Dogface Butterfly — the state butterfly. As my long-suffering spouse is all too aware, I am dead to the rest of the world when nature presents me with some creature I haven’t seen before. Luckily, he’s a patient person when it comes to my garden-related eccentricities.

Some online groups helped confirm the ID, as the the Orange Sulphur butterfly is similar and I’m not a lepidopterist. Supposedly the dark pattern on the male upper wings resembles a poodle and hence the name, although I doubt any poodles would agree. Looks more like a duck to me, but Duckface doesn’t have the same gravitas and could hardly be named the state butterfly, even in California where we embrace weird. ๐Ÿ™‚

“But, if it is the state butterfly, why haven’t I seen one before?” I wondered.

It is relatively rare to catch a glimpse of a California dogface butterfly, because they often fly 10-20 feet above ground, except when stopping to feed on a low flower, and are exceptionally fast.


Well there you go. Look up.

To provide for any future dogface butterfly progeny, I went out and sourced a false indigo plant (Amorpha californica) which is the host plant for the California dogface caterpillars. CalFlora nursery is my go-to source for native plants. Actually, they even have the local variety, Amorpha californica var. napensis, aka Napa false indigo, which is rare and threatened. I’m crossing my fingers that it will thrive here.

To provide nectar for the butterfly form, some tips from U.S. Forest Service, “The primary food source of the adults is the flower nectar from plants of the mustard family (Brassicaceae). It is an incredibly important pollinator for these, as well as a number of other California native plants, including California buckeye, thistles, and tall blue verbena. Interestingly, the California dogface butterfly has frequently been observed to prefer purple flowers.”

Nonetheless, this dogface was enjoying the bright orange tithonia, like so many other butterflies seem to, including monarchs.

Speaking of the tithonias phenomenal appeal to butterflies, and following up from my last post about the monarchs on the Mexican Sunflower (Tithonia rotundifolia), this last month there were days where we counted 15 monarchs on the tithonias in our garden! Incredible, since last year was the first year we spotted ONE in many decades. We keep checking to see if our new butterfly garden, replete with narrow-leaf milkweed, has any eggs, but I haven’t found any yet.

Perhaps one of the Comma butterflies. Not sure. Satyr Comma or Hoary Comma?
Perhaps one of the Comma butterflies. Not sure. Satyr Comma or Hoary Comma?

The second new butterfly spotted here in the last month was, I think, a Satyr Comma, or perhaps a Hoary Comma, although I’ve had no one confirm that for me yet. It was on my wish list of butterflies to see, so I was tickled to spot one while picking raspberries one day. If anyone is sure of the ID, please add in comments.

Apparently nettles are commonly a host plant for the caterpillars, and among flowers for nectar, it likes blackberries. Presumably raspberries also, as this is where I spotted it.

What a beautiful butterfly.

It’s been a good summer for butterflies! Here are some others observed this month:

And now let’s try that curious segue from butterflies to bidets. For me, this new experience is just as exciting as seeing a new butterfly, and of course, you can’t have a healthy butterfly habitat, or a human one for that matter, without a stable climate. A stable climate needs forests, and bidets can help save some forests.

The Other New Arrival: A Bidet
Orange sky during fall wildfires in Sonoma County
This photo of an orange sky day was taken when wildfire smoke was blanketing our area a couple years ago. Dangerous air quality days are happening more frequently.

As mentioned in my last post, I’ve been motivated to do a deeper dive into educating myself about climate change and taking more steps to align my carbon footprint with the level we all need to get to in order to meet crucial and impending international goals. We’ve got a lot to do in a short, seven-year period. Some actions are easier than others, and this one is easy and fun and saves money.

Using a bidet is one of a plethora of inspiring suggestions from the Earth Hero app (not to be confused with the Earth Hero store) which “…makes acting on climate change easy. It helps you take positive practical action in response to the climate emergency while discovering more satisfying ways to live. Earth Hero connects you to a global movement rising to the interconnected crises of climate change and rapid species loss.” (Apple app store).

This encouragement I’m sharing about bidets is probably only relevant to my American peers here, as we seem to be about the only country still living without bidets. And I was one of the majority that had never even tried one. Until now. And I’ll never go back.

… Every year, Americans flush the equivalent of millions of trees down the toilet. Much of this toilet paper comes from trees logged in Canadaโ€™s species-rich boreal forests, the vast landscape of plants and wetlands growing below the Arctic Circle. Nearly a quarter of the worldโ€™s last intact forest landscapes are in this region, says the Natural Resources Defense Council, storing about the same amount of carbon as three decadesโ€™ worth of fossil fuel emissions.

By the time it reaches your bathroom, every roll of toilet paper has used up an estimated 1.5 pounds of wood and more than 6 gallons of water.

Bidets, meanwhile, require about one-eighth of a gallon per use, a fraction of the water required to make the amount of toilet paper needed for the same purpose. And since bidets tend to cut household consumption of TP by about 80 percent, theyโ€™re โ€œa great alternative to using tissue products,โ€ says the NRDC.

Washington Post — 3 Reasons Why Bidets Are Better Than Toilet Paper
A borrowed photo from BioBidet–I got their Slim Edge attachment.

Even if I didn’t care about the environment, I would get a bidet attachment simply for all the money it saves in TP. Plus the refreshing cleanliness. Consider if you were just coming in from a sweaty day in the garden or gym. You have two choices: you can clean yourself with some dry paper towels or you could take a shower. Which would you choose? Exactly. This is a shower for your tush and your tush will love you for it. It’s clean, Americans. Don’t worry. ๐Ÿ™‚

Check your TP report card here, whether it’s made of bamboo or wood pulp

To be clear, I’m talking about a simple bidet attachment that anyone could fit onto their existing toilet. Some have all kinds of bells and whistles. I don’t have an electric outlet behind my toilet, and was doing this as a climate action, so I chose the cheaper, non-electric model from amongst the Wirecutter recommendations — the BioBidet SlimEdge. (I’m not receiving any kickbacks from this or any product!) So, mine is cold water only, which I actually like (ask me again in winter). But it was really easy for me to install with only a large, flat-edge screwdriver and some pliers, didn’t change the lid angle, and works like a charm.

To dry off, some use a tiny bit of TP just to absorb the watery drips, much as a towel after a shower. Or, washable bidet towelettes are the other option. I made some out of soft cotton flannel fabric with cute patterns to make me smile as I sit on the throne and contemplate the mysteries of the universe. But, if you don’t sew, I see that many Etsy sellers also offer them.

Ok, I hope that wasn’t too squeamish a topic for a garden blog. But if you are reading this, you are probably a gardener and a lover of forests. We can save some forests with bidets. And help keep a healthy habitat for butterflies and all creatures, including ourselves.

Now, let’s end with some actual garden photos!

Every time I get a post finished, I look forward to also catching up with my favorite gardeners, nature lovers and other bloggers I follow from around the world. Thanks to those of you who shared climate action inspiration in the comments of my last post! I’m grateful to all of you. Would love to hear anything else you want to share. Happy gardening!

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13 thoughts on “Of Butterflies and Bidets

    1. LMAO!!!! I loved that video! ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚ … the cup of coffee in the morning…. LOL … the multi-tasking… OMG thank you Kate… You made my day. I needed that. He’s so funny. And…what a good setup!!! I’m ready to go there, or renovate my bathroom to be just like that. Cheers!

  1. What beautiful butterflies, no wonder you were engrossed! I empathise completely ~ my husband reckons anything could happen around me in the garden once I’m in that focused zone and I’d never notice. I prefer Duckface to Dogface, by the way. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Your garden is looking lovely, especially that great tomato harvest. I’m with you on Sungold but I think Rosella comes a very close second! Hooray for your new bidet! ๐Ÿ˜ƒ They’re very common here in France (and the rest of continental Europe, for that matter) but I have to say not so in the UK. The first time I encountered one was as a teenager on my family’s first ever holiday in France; there was one in the hotel room and my parents filled it with cold water and used it as a wine cooler! ๐Ÿ˜‚ Talk about Brits abroad . . . but on a serious note, it’s a great gesture for the environment. Enjoy your contemplative moments on the new throne. ๐Ÿ˜Š

    1. ๐Ÿ˜„ So funny about the Duckface. … I’ll have to look up Rosella tomato as I’ve not heard of it. I did try some heirloom cherries this year, but Sungold still beat them in taste test. LOL about the bidet being used as a wine cooler. Little did I know that this topic was going to yield such treasures of levity! ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Thanks Allison! It’s been a special year in the garden with all the butterflies. We just went to a plant sale at the oldest butterfly garden in the US and came home with more host plants. We had met Louise Hallberg 20 years ago and acquired our first aristolochia vine–it’s the sole host plant for the beautiful black pipevine swallowtail. The garden has a fascinating history if you or anyone else is interested: https://hallbergbutterflygardens.org/hallberg-history

    1. Thanks Ann! Yes, it was very heartening to see so many this year. Happily, there are a great many people in this Sonoma County, California area that try to grow habitat for pollinators and butterflies, and it must be helping. I love seeing what you are doing there! You have a wonderful blog!

    2. Thank you! I’m hoping to make my garden a better place for insects and other wildlife. It feels like a good thing for a gardener to do and now our local council is starting to try to leave areas of long grass and wildflowers too. ๐Ÿ™‚

    3. Oh that’s wonderful about your local council adjusting what they do — to leave grasses and wildflowers for pollinators! It’s getting very tricky here, with climate change and the increase of wildfires in our area, we have to mow for fire safety, but also try to leave long grass areas for pollinators….

  2. Actually it is not so unrelated. If you substitute aftobeh for bidet then small garden watering can for aftobeh – there you go! Much easier. I love your butterflies. I hope they will like the False Indigo, I had one but I lost it, I wish I had looked after it more carefully. Amelia

    1. How delightful! I just looked up aftobeh as I was unfamiliar with it. You are a font of fascinating things … what a great connection to the garden!!! Thx for the good wishes for the false indigo…it is a very small plant at present and I’m going to keep it in a nursery container for the time being, to try to grow it up more before planting out. Fingers crossed. I also went to a butterfly plant sale last week at the original butterfly garden where we got our pipevine. It’s actually apparently the oldest butterfly garden in the US. Hallberg Butterfly Gardens. I was hoping to source some more false indigo. Alas, they sold out of it before I got there. Always lovely to hear from you Amelia! -lisa

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