Coming in on a Wing and a Prayer

Oct 26, 2016

You've heard the expression, "On a wing and a prayer."

It apparently originated during World War II. Remember the 1942 film,  "The Flying Tigers," starring John Wayne as Capt. Jim Gordon?

John Wayne, aka Jim Gordon, asks a Rangoon hotel clerk about a missing plane: "Any word on that flight yet?"

The hotel clerk replies that Japanese aircraft attacked the plane, but "She's coming in on one wing and a prayer."

Then there's the 1944 film, "Wing and a Prayer," about "the heroic crew of an American carrier in the desperate early days of World War II in the Pacific theater" (Wikipedia).

Fast forward to today, but this time with migratory monarchs. It seems that, they, too, fly on a "a wing and a prayer."

Over the last two months, we've seen dozens of migratory monarchs-often four or five at a time--stop for flight fuel in our 600-square foot pollinator garden in Vacaville, Calif.  Many arrive in poor condition, their wings gouged, shredded and tattered. Still, they manage to sip nectar from Mexican sunflowers (Tithonia), butterfly bush (Buddleia) and Lantana, and continue their hazardous journey.

Imagine how incredibly difficult it is for these tiny, fluttering insects to weather the elements, not to mention evading birds, praying mantids and other predators.

Not all will make it. But look for some to arrive in the overwintering spots along coastal California "on a wing and a prayer."