Have you noticed? There are so many butterflies this year. I thought maybe I was just imagining things, but it really is true. There are more butterflies this fall than usual. So I thought I would look into why.

I love the fall in Texas, but it seems the plants are thinking it’s still summer. I continue to have many blooming and flowering plants and it’s mid-November.

Along with the flowers are pollinators galore. I’ve got a variety of bees and wasps, but it’s the butterflies that amaze me. They are swarming around my backyard. It’s almost like walking into a butterfly garden.

I did a internet search and found the reason for so many insects in 2016 is the increased amount of rainfall, especially since August. And we received more than 2 inches of rain this week.

Seeing so many insects fluttering around this week, I had to go outside with my camera and field guide. I wanted to identify as many butterflies as I could, and it’s not as easy as it sounds. Even with the pictures on the field guide, there are some very subtle differences between species.

It takes a keen eye to detect distinctive markings and properly identify some of them — even with photos since they butterflies rarely stay still. I love knowing that so many different butterflies are visiting my yard.

I did discover that, on one particular butterfly, I liked the underside of the wings more than the top side.

On the Gulf Fritillary, the top is a pretty enough orange surface, but as the picture below shows, the underneath side is strikingly beautiful — with large white markings and hints of pastel colors.

Besides the Fritillaries, I saw many Monarchs, some Queens, Soldiers, Eastern Tiger Swallowtails — both black and gold — Red Admirals, Checkerspots, a variety of Sulphers and Skippers. I even spotted a hummingbird moth in my esperanza.

There were probably more than this, but some just refused to light for any length of time, making them hard to identify.

The key to attracting these beauties is to grow plants on which they feed and lay eggs. Butterfly weed, milk weeds, hibiscus, firecracker fern, esperanza, bouganvilla, turks cap, Greggs mist, senna, cottonwood trees, betony, ornamental grasses, flame acanthus, sages, ruellia and willow trees are some of the ones I have around my home and they bring in butterflies!

I hope you are noticing and enjoying the increased volumes of butterflies in your area. You never know how long it’ll be until they are this prolific again.

Darla Horner Menking is an outdoor enthusiast and Herald correspondent. Contact her at darla.menking@gmail.com.

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