Monarch Butterfly at Raccoon Creek State Park

Monarch butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park

The Monarch’s head and thorax are blocked from our view by the leaf of Asclepias syriaca,  or common milkweed. This peek-a-boo photograph reveals the wings of one of the most beautiful butterflies in the entire world. Sure, those of Costa Rica, India, China and Brazil include many breath-taking examples. Yes, the butterflies of Cambodia, Mongolia and Myanamar, and the less chronicled species of the African continent still remain largely unheralded.

Nevertheless, few butterflies register the maximum color richness and the striking contrast of North America’s monarchs. This female butterfly models her beautiful wings with the same poise, carriage and healthy richness that we see with runway models in Paris, New York and Rome. Is she in Brussels? Nope. This butterfly is in Raccoon Creek State Park in Southwestern Pennsylvania.

We here in northeastern U.S. states await the arrival of the monarchs. We approach mid-July 2013 and few have migrated up. There is real concern. Is this a cyclical thing? I believe it is. Monarch populations are so closely monitored by so many nowadays, that any catastrophic threat would have been registered.

Monarchs flew in the last remaining undeveloped lots in the Brooklyn, New York of my childhood. They laid their eggs on asclepias plants, just steps away from lifeless mobsters toasted in burned- out cars (those ’empty lots’ were the most convenient places for thugs to dispose of their rivals). Surely populations rise and fall, as they always have.

Loaded with cardiac glycosides and pyrrolizidine alkaloids our supermodel rests, unconcerned about birds, wasps, killer flies, and not dependent on makeup, hair, and other stylists.


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