Are Monarchs Safe?

Monarch Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park. Jeff blogs about the art and science of butterflies at http://www.wingedbeauty.com

We’ve fretted for years, concerned that the numbers of Monarch butterflies was plummeting to crisis numbers. Up and down they went, and all of us kept our eyes and hearts peeled, awaiting credible reports back from the mysterious mountains in central Mexico. Just the realization, so recent for so many of us, that Monarchs had to travel to the east most USA from that far! made us cringe!

So here we are in September 2018. Many of us are sharing rich, beautiful images of Monarchs seen in our gardens, parks and roadsides, just these last weeks. Seeing them as if their numbers are good, strong.

Here in central Georgia, I’ve seen multiple Monarchs flying in my garden at the same time. That’s a whole lot better than I saw in this area in 2015, 2016 and 2017. Females have been laying eggs on my Asclepias (milkweeds) by the dozens. Several dozen have enclosed (safely left chrysalis and flown) these last weeks. Yippee!

This male on Joe Pye in Raccoon Creek State Park in Southwestern Pennsylvania.

Can we rest assured that for the meantime, Monarchs are safe? Virginia? Monarchmama? Curt? Phil? Marcie? Jeff (Jamestown, NY)?

Jeff

Where To Go To See SouthEastern Butterflies?

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There was a dearth of butterflies in the U.S. northeast, this 2016. It began, puzzled many, and never ended. Species of butterflies usually seen, never appeared. Finding a single flier of many butterflies species became, well, exciting! This absence of butterflies concerns (scares!) those of us who look for, and seek them.

I made 3 trips down to Georgia in ’16. My destination? The Butterflies & Blooms In The Briar Patch Habitat in central Georgia, a little more than an hour east of Atlanta. Eatonton is a county seat, Putnam County. It’s a very hospitable town, with very friendly people in it. I’ve made 7, 7 trips to the Habitat in 2015 and 2016. The warmth, friendliness and welcoming you receive is Real and so pleasing. So when you take my advice and go there, you will see legions of butterflies, flying morning and afternoon, and flying in OMG! plenty.

If the founder of this Miracle! (who worked with her volunteers, tirelessly, for several years now), Virginia Linch get winds that you are going to visit the Habitat, she will make sure to give you the above reception (‘warm, friendly, welcoming’).

But to the point, it’s almost always sunny, and the thousands of hostplants and nectar-producing plants insure that your head will be aswirl with flying butterflies. If you’re not already living in the South, many butterflies will be new to you. (Also the home of the childrens’ books including the Briar Rabbit series & the writer of The Color Purple).

Footnote: The tremendously popular Lake Oconee is nearby, and has been a beacon for 2nd homeowners from the northeast and the midwest. Know that thousands, many thousands of folks from your home state own nearby. You’ll see them in the Publix parking lot, and you’ll see their license plates here, there and everywhere.

Totally citizen formed, nurtured, planted, maintained, loved and, well without any PR or advertising. Go. Go. And let me know when you do.

Jeff

No Limits in the Briar Patch

Question Mark Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow in the Briar Patch Habitat in Eatonton, GA

When you watch the Pittsburgh Steelers play the Cincinnati Bengals, you know who you will see on those 100 yards of football field in Cincinnati. Players of those 2 teams, and NFL referees. Maybe some medical techs and a doctor or two, and that’s it.

At this really neat town in Central Georgia, in their Butterflies & Blooms in the Briar Patch these acres, masterfully designed by Virginia C. Linch, the wizard behind this successful habitat, you just never know what will fly in from above, or at ankle-height. You expect to meet Monarchs, Tiger swallowtails, Long-tailed skippers, Gulf fritillaries, Black Swallowtails, Giant swallowtails, Silver spotted skippers and some other butterflies. Exciting? Every single one of them. But that’s not the end of it there. Add to that excitement, the real prospect of seeing many, many other species of butterflies. Which ones?

Here’s one I was not expecting to see. A butterfly that much prefers to fly at the forest’s edge. Satyr that it is, this Question Mark butterfly kept to its zone. Fortunate for me, time and place were right. Necessity sent it onto a platform to warm itself in the early Georgia sun. One that always flees Jeff, it was briefly programmed to stay and warm, and that, that enabled my macro-lens to go to work.

I love browns and shades of brown, and well-turned form, and this young and fresh Question Mark butterfly sports it all.

You Like?

Jeff

This Year 2015

Wild Bergamot wildflowers photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park, PA

Oconee National Forest in Central Georgia, the Jamestown Audubon Center reserve in Western New York,  and the Allegheny National Forest in Northwestern Pennsylvania were joyous visits for me, new regions, new butterflies and new wildflowers. With 2015 fully in progress, I went to Doak Field in Raccoon Creek State Park last Thursday, July 2nd. As I worked those Southwestern Pennsylvania trails, there were surprises in store. Darners were flying in squadrons in 2014. I met few on July 2nd. Butterflies were many in ’14, I encountered relatively few this time, and didn’t fill a roll of Fuji slide film. Common milkweed are present in good numbers, but with the sun out, little wind blowing, I found no Monarchs and very, very few Swallowtails.

When I rounded the bend on a trail cut through the meadow, where hundreds of Wild Bergamot (pictured here) greeted me in 2014, there are very few to be seen on July 2, 2015.

No, Monica, we don’t get bored in the field, for each year brings its owns mysteries and surprises. The camera lens must be cleaned, for you Never know what’s to be around the next bend.

Jeff