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. 🙂
“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.https://www.fs.usda.gov/wildflowers/pollinators/pollinator-of-the-month/california-dogface-butterfly.shtml
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.
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
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 Canada’s species-rich boreal forests, the vast landscape of plants and wetlands growing below the Arctic Circle. Nearly a quarter of the world’s last intact forest landscapes are in this region, says the Natural Resources Defense Council, storing about the same amount of carbon as three decades’ worth of fossil fuel emissions.Washington Post — 3 Reasons Why Bidets Are Better Than Toilet Paper
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, they’re “a great alternative to using tissue products,” says the NRDC.
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. 🙂
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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