Monarch Butterfly on Tall Verbena

Monarch butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Phipps Conservatory, Pittsburgh, PA

A perfect match! Here’s a perennial that strongly produces high quality nectar paired with a Danaus plexxipus who needs that high energy jet fuel to power its flight from Phipps Conservatory Outdoor Gardens to West Virginia, then Kentucky, onto Tennessee, Mississippi or Louisiana. This monarch’s flight will be powered by a total of 1,000,000 full wing movements.’

Who originated this royal name, Monarch? According to Butterfly People by William Leach, this name was decided by Carolus Linnaeus. You know him as the naturalist who developed the binomial nomenclature system of naming species. So Danaus is the genus that includes Monarchs, Queens,  Soldiers and a host of similar species around the globe. The second word, plexxipus is specific to the species. Danaus plexxipus became the scientific name for this North American species of butterflies.

Royal she is here, with a ‘cape’ of rich orangeish red accompanied by borders and expanses expensively decorated with patterns of whites and oranges with full black hems.

Taken yesterday? Nope. September 22, 2010. The dramatic absence of Monarchs this year has startled those of us who keep a keen eye on butterflies.

Will President Obama cut short his Martha’s Vineyard vacation to meet with the President of Mexico to find ways to buck up the Monarchs? 100,000,000 Americans would support that.



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