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Migration of the Monarch Butterfly

by Linnea Lavell

Starting in September and October eastern and northeastern monarch butterflies begin their migration from Southern Canada and the United States to Central Mexico in what is described as one of the most spectacular natural phenomena in the world. Monarchs fly south using several flyways then converge in Central Texas to form a single flyway the remainder of their migration. In March, they start their return trip arriving back north around July.  What is truly amazing is that no single butterfly will make the entire round trip. 

Monarchs only travel during the day so they need to find a roost at night.  When they roost they gather close together during the cool autumn evenings. Tens of thousands of butterflies can roost in a single tree.  Ideal trees for roosting are pine, fir and cedar trees as they have thick canopies that moderate the temperature and humidity at the roost site.  In the mornings, the monarchs will bask in the sunlight to warm themselves.

Monarchs overwinter in the same 11 to 12 mountain areas in the States of Mexico and Michoacán from October to late March.  They roost for the winter in the oyamel fir forests at elevations of 2400 to 3600 meters (nearly 2 miles above sea level). The mountain hillsides of the forest provide an ideal microclimate for the butterflies.  Temperatures there range between 0 and 15 degrees Celsius.  With a lower temperature the butterflies would need to use their fat reserves. The humidity in the forest assures the monarchs won’t try out which allows them to conserve their energy.

The monarchs know their way to the overwinter sites even though this migrating generation has never been to Mexico before.  While researchers are still investigating the directional aids used by monarchs to find their overwinter location, it appears to be a combination of magnetic pull of the earth, the position of the earth and other aids. 

The western populations of monarchs which are those west of the Rocky Mountains have a similar migration only they overwinter sites on the coast of California.

There are monarch migration sites which will show sightings for Summer and Fall of 2016 and give projections as to when peak migrations will occur.  There are also multiple festivals and events that celebrate this beautiful migration of the monarch butterfly.  In Grapevine, TX, the Butterfly Flutterby is being held on October 15 between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. This is an event for the entire family so come out to Grapevine Botanical Gardens for the Butterfly Flutterby.






The State Fair of Texas

by Linnea Lavell

Big Tex is standing tall again waiting to greet everyone visiting the State Fair of Texas so grab a corny dog and join the festivities.   The gates to the fairgrounds will open on September 30 at 10 a.m.  The Opening Day Parade is a tradition and kicks off at noon September 30 starting at Houston & Main Streets in Dallas.  

A little history on the State Fair of Texas.  According to the organization that produces the Fair today, the origin of the fair can be traced back to January 30, 1886 when a group of Dallas businessmen formed the Dallas State Fair and Exposition. In March of 1886 the board of directors for the Dallas State Fair voted to purchase 80 acres of land in East Dallas for an exposition site.  The first public event on the property was a gala Fourth of July celebration which was highlighted by a free barbecue, entertainment, races and dancing late into the night. Throughout the years, additional acreage, buildings and events were added.  In 1952 Big Tex makes his first appearance welcoming guests to the fair.  In 1986 Fair Park is designated as a National Historic Landmark.  In 2005 the first Big Tex Choice Awards are held with the challenge for concessionaires to create new and unique food items.  This year make sure to stop by the Woman’s Museum Building to view Rome Comes to Dallas where 34 life size replicas of Michelangelo’s masterpieces in true size from the Sistine Chapel (there is an additional fee to visit this attraction).

There are so many things to see and do at the State Fair of Texas that you may need to visit more than one day.  Enjoy live music, the auto show, livestock exhibits, puppet shows, pig races, agriculture exhibits, rides on the midway, lots of wonderful food and much more. 

For a list of events, information on ticket discounts, parking or  to plan your day at the fair, visit the website for The State Fair of Texas.  Enjoy attending the fair and don’t forget to try the fried Jell-o which has been voted Best Taste in the Big Tex Choice Awards.

The A T & T Red River Showdown between the University of Texas and University of Oklahoma will be held Saturday, October 8 at Cotton Bowl Stadium.  Kickoff is at 11 a.m. Game tickets are purchased through each universities athletic office and tickets include admission to the State Fair of Texas on game day.  Additional college football games will be held at the Cotton Bowl during the fair.  Click here for a full list of games being played. 

The State Fair of Texas runs through October 23.  Hope to see y'all at the Fair!




Flowers To Plant That Are Critter Resistant

by Linnea Lavell

You spend a lot of time, energy and money to make your garden beautiful only to have deer, rodents and other pests gobble it up.  How frustrating!  While deer and other sneaky animals tend to avoid human activity, a tasty garden may just be too tempting for them to resist.

This fall look into planting beautiful but pest resistant bulbs in your garden to deter these unwanted visitors so you can enjoy the fruits of your labor all season long.  Keep in mind you will need to keep your pets away from these bulbs as they are just as toxic to them as your pesky, unwelcome visitors.

Here are some plants to consider adding to your garden that will make it beautiful plus save it from hungry herbivores:

  • Daffodils - These beautiful and easy to grow bulbs come in a variety of colors and types,  They contain lycorine which is a bitter and poisonous alkaloid that deer and other mammals avoid.
  • Snowdrops - These white flowers which bloom in early Spring also contain lycorine and grow best in moist, well drained soil.
  • Alliums - Also called the flowering onion, these plants are in the onion and chive family produce a light purple flower and bloom in late Spring and Summer.
  • Hyacinths - Like daffodils and snowdrops, hyacinths are poisonous.  They come in a various colors, smell wonderful and will keep deer away.
  • Snowflakes - Another lycorine containing flower.  Snowflakes have a bell shaped flower and bloom in mid to late Spring.

While these plants will deter deer, rodents and other garden pests, if you need a stronger deterrent your best bet may be a deer fence.  Remember that deer are jumpers so make sure your deer fence is  minimum of 8 to 12 feet tall.  There are plenty of decorative fence options and online resources to help you to create a fence that will work with your home's style and surrounding landscape.








Attracting Hummingbirds to Your Yard

by Linnea Lavell

Many people enjoy having hummingbirds around their yard and garden.  The delicate little birds are fun to watch flit here and there and enjoy a drink of nectar from a flower or feeder.

If you are putting out a new feeders or are having issues attracting hummingbirds to an existing feeder, here are some tips that may help.

  • Hummingbirds are attracted to red which is why many feeders you purchase are red and it is recommended to color the nectar you use to feed them red.  If the feeder you are using does not have red on it, simply tie some red ribbons on the wire that it is hanging to and they will find it.
  • Hummingbirds like a clean feeder.  They will quickly abandon a neglected feeder for a cleaner alternative.  The nectar can spoil in as little as 2-5 days depending on outside temperatures causing fermentation and mold.  Keep feeders in shaded areas when it is extremely warm out and offer quantities of nectar that can be consumed in a few days.  When you refill your feeder, make sure to thoroughly clean it with hot, soapy water and rinse before refilling it.
  • Diffuse territorial behavior.  Hummingbirds, especially males, often display territorial or aggressive behavior around nectar.  Offering multiple feeders may squelch this behavior and provide a source of nectar for all in the area.
  • Add a mister to your yard.  Hummingbirds love to bathe.
  • Hummingbirds spend most of their day perched in trees or shrubs.  However, to maintain their high metabolism, they must feed every 10-15 minutes.  If you provide perches for hummingbirds, they are more likely to stay in your yard.
  • Attract hummingbirds to your yard with by planting flowers that attract them.  Hummingbirds have no sense of smell so scentless flowers that are tubular and bright in color such as orange, red or yellow are good choices.   Columbines, fuchsias or hollyhocks are some options.

The best simple recipe for making hummingbird nectar is 4 parts water and 1 part sugar.   Simply boil for two minutes to remove impurities in the water and sugar, cool and fill your feeder.  It is not recommended to add red food coloring, itmay be harmful to the birds.  Make sure not to boil the nectar longer than two minutes as evaporation will cause the solution to be stronger which can be bad for the birds.  Any left-over solution can be refrigerated to use another day.

It could take hours or even weeks to attract your first hummingbird but if you are patient and follow these steps, you could be rewarded with hummingbirds visiting your yard throughout the season.





Presale Checklist

by Linnea Lavell

Selling your home takes some preparation! Here’s some things you can do to minimize the last-minute chores and tasks that come with selling:

  1. Figure out how much cost you may incur for repairs and upgrades so that you can either budget for it or know how much would be appropriate for buyers to knock off the sale price, if you want them to take on those costs.
  2. Deep cleaning is not fun, but it’s very necessary when you’re getting ready to sell. Don’t want to pay for a cleaning crew? Depending on how large your home is, you may want to recruit a squad of friendly volunteers. Just offer some delicious food and perhaps a future ride to the airport.
  3. Make sure your yard is at its peak! This is something you can and should start improving a few months before you actually list. Yard work and gardening can hardly be drastically improved overnight.
  4. The majority of homeowners have a lot of stuff, nothing in particular, just stuff. Pack the non-essentials and store it elsewhere when it’s getting close to listing time. Uncluttered floors appear larger, cleaner, and more attractive. Don’t worry, your go-to recliner will be waiting for you in your new home, I promise!
  5. You know what gets pretty dirty and needs a checkup from time to time? Chimneys and fireplaces! If you have one or more, get them cleaned and inspected by experts to make sure they look pristine, and to prevent a nasty repair surprise!

Displaying blog entries 1-5 of 5

Contact Information

Photo of Linnea Lavell Real Estate
Linnea Lavell
Lavell Realty, LLC
P.O. Box 1243
Little Elm TX 75068
Fax: 877-488-1740