Hope Rises: A Monarch Reward

Monarch female ovipositing photographed by Jeff Zablow at the Butterflies and Blooms Habitat in Eatonton, GA

I spend several mornings, attempting to score September shots of Monarchs deep within the milkweed beds at the Butterflies & Blooms in the Habitat, in sweet Eatonton, Georgia. As I stood at the edges of those several Asclepias patches, females Monarchs would fly in their meandering way, and then head straight to the milkweeds.

Why? They were laying eggs, one at a time, ovipositing it is called. Wow! Few were the times that they landed at the tops of the milkweeds. Almost all of the successful ovipositing tries were at the inner milkweeds, those within the inner reaches of these plant groups.

What to do? Who would want to have a look at my images, if the entire butterfly could not be seen? Duh!

We have spent the last years fretting. We, hundreds of thousand of us east of the Mississippi River have worried, will this decline in Monarch numbers continue, to the . . . Heaven Forbid! disappearance of eastern Monarch?

I mulled this over, and decided: Take these exposures. This, this is what we have been hoping and praying for, the continued resilience of Monarch populations, in Eatonton, Lilburn, Frewsburg, Oxford, Griffin, Watkinsville, Gibbstown, and Shellman Bluff, to name a few. These females set their eggs, and those that are successful, will fly to the center of Mexico, and overwinter there, in fir trees.

Our Monarch reward, in part for all of the effort, sweat and tears of Monarchmama, Virginia and Lisa and the rest of our Monarch stewards.

A Monarch female, earnest to set her eggs, the product of a strong bull male, and a determined, beautiful female.


Winter Antidotes VI

Queen Butterfly at White Tank Mountains, AZ
Need a winter antidote now. The NOAA forecast for Pittsburgh tonight and tomorrow, 4″ to 6″ of snow, may sound fantastic to Petra (my black russian), but it will mean going back again to that snow shovel.

Got an image that radiates heat? This one sure does. A Queen butterfly (Danaus gilippus) nectaring in an arroyo in White Tank Mountains Regional Park, west of Phoenix, Arizona. Backstory? I found the arroyo, but after working through it for several hundred yards, I did not find any plant in flower. Why would a plant produce flowers in this unrelenting oven of an arroyo? Then I spotted this gentle beauty, with . . . flowers. Tiny flowers. Queen and I were both happy to find what we were looking for, so my approach enabled this image.

What did I do? Bird in the hand. I stationed myself there, and with baby blue sky, here is the result. Closely related to the the much discussed Monarch butterfly, the Queen’s host plants are similar to those of all Danaus butterflies, Asclepias plants, milkweeds.

So tomorrow morning, as I psyche myself to go out and shovel, I will first open my iMac and soak in this image, a butterfly nectaring in . . . a veritable oven, and overjoyed for it. No doubt!