Tell Me a Story, Tell Me a Story . . .

Monarch Butterfly and White Blooms photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park in Pennsylvania, 9/4/14
It was the very end of September, the 28th, in the year 2014. Millions of folks east of the Mississippi were bemoaning the near total absence of Monarch butterflies (Danaus Plexippus). They went online asking who has seen them here or there? The mood from June to the end of August was anxious. Could this actually happen, on our watch? Was the migration of Monarchs doomed? Would the time soon come when no one under the age of 30 would remember seeing a Monarch in their garden, town, county?

I spent alot of mornings in Doak field this past September. No Monarchs, then 1 or 2 of them. Then that morning when I counted 11 males and females. Those eleven represented a very good count for this locale.

This morning shown here, I was elated. I was seeing Monarch butterflies on Goldenrod, Ironweed, and Joe Pye Weed. Daddah! There was also this substantial stand of flowerheads with white flowers. Butterflies, 17 or more years of fieldwork has taught, spend little or no time on white flowers. Native white-flowering plants are serviced by . . . moths. I spent some minutes stationed at these 80 or so plants, this little sea of white blooms. An occasional fly, bee, but no more. I moved on, came back, left, returned, nothing.

Learned to never say never, so I returned again. Field guides add weight to my LLBean backpack, so without one, I decided that these plants were Boneset (Eupatorium Perfoliatum) and as I began to once again count it as a no-go flower for butterflies . . . this Monarch flew in. Life’s lesson, learned so many times in my life, and drilled into my head in basic training at Ft. Dix (by a cadre as rough as those guys in Brooklyn who were my neighbors) confirmed.

End of story: Monarch butterflies rebounded, and they partake of a variety of nectars, yes, including the minimally imbibed Boneset cocktail. A Good Morning, that.