Tuesday I went out running with Rob and we talked about how we used to see lots of monarch butterflies during migration season when we were kids: you'd see clouds of them in the air during spring in California. Not super-dense clouds, admittedly, but you would see several at a time fluttering along in neighborhoods and parks alike. In recent years, though, we haven't seen nearly as many. Rob noted that a few years ago there was a difficult, very cold winter that killed a lot of the butterflies, even in dedicated butterfly roosting areas like the one atNatural Bridges State Beach in Santa Cruz.
This spring, though, it seems they are slowly making a comeback. Since having that conversation on Tuesday (prompted by a sighting of a single butterfly), I've seen monarchs here and there--not in huge amounts, and none of them very large, but they've been noticeable. There are apparently a lot of places around the Bay Area where you can go see butterflies, but I'm just happy to notice that they're coming around again, and that I don't have to go anywhere special to see them. No doubt the butterfly conservationists are happy, too.
I've also been seeing clouds of some other mystery bug--this one not so pretty--in our backyard in recent weeks. They were swarming in the dwarf citrus tree and the crape myrtle tree, and they looked sort of like mosquitoes. But why would mosquitoes swarm in trees? I finally got a closer look and I could tell they weren't mosquitoes, and in fact, they look like some kind of bee or fly with a black/dark brown body. I couldn't really tell what they were, even after looking at many creepy pictures on BugGuide.net (yes, I was obsessing). I think they might be something called a flower fly or Syrphidae, but I'm not positive. I didn't want to get too close in case they did turn out to be bees. This meant that, instead of braving the bug-filled rosemary plant conveniently located in the backyard, I had to buy rosemary at the store. However, I also bought bug spray at the store, so...hopefully this will be a temporary bug issue.