Monarch Heroics

Monarch butterfly (female) on Tithonia, photographed by Jeff Zablow at "Butterflies and Blooms in the Briar Patch," Eatonton, GA

Me? I try as hard as I can to not buy ‘Made in China.’ That for so many reasons. It’s been tough for those of us who make this extra effort, but mostly it pays off. Made in USA sings to me, as I can find it. Our Monarch butterflies so evoke that for me. Danaus plexippus flies from coast to coast, north to south. Seeing a Monarch titillates all, ages 1 to 110. This one is on Tithonia (Mexican sunflower) in the Butterflies & Blooms Habitat in Eatonon, Georgia.

A very beautiful butterfly, waves of burnt orange, spots of a type of yellow, white, bands trailing the wing margins of black black, spiffy black wing lines, the stark sizable white spots on head and thorax, all eye-candy in a fresh Monarch.

Americans are also blessed, with the still phenomenal saga of Monarchs flying from Maine to Mexico, Eatonton to Mexico, Frewsburg to Mexico, Shellman Bluff to Mexico . . . and once winter slips away, from Mexico to Maine, Eatonton, Fresburg and Shellman Bluff. Oh, and from Washington State to California and from . . . .

Now, this image triggered my thinking to that word ‘Heroics.’ Would you look at those right wings? Thousands of tiny scales lost, holes in the wing, scratches. She has seen, experienced and survived. Her color remains sugary sweet, and her head, well, she is a real looker! American women & American Monarchs, the finest. The most heroic.

Jeff

Winter Elixir

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

She’s decided to just take it easy, amidst the perennials at the Butterflies & Blooms in the Briar Patch Miracle, in Eatonton, Georgia. It’s just past 8:30 A.M with the sun not yet fiery hot. Yesterday’s nectar haul was chef’s choice, thanks to Virginia and her band of merry volunteers. Those eggs she’s nurturing are not yet ready, and the boys know that she’s already cooked.

Weeks aloft have taken some toll on her wing scales, but she remains a looker, what with those comely white spots shot out from their black margins.

The thing is We cannot see a Monarch butterfly now. The offspring of this one are now safely in central Mexico, high up in fir trees, awaiting the signal that even Our best biologists/molecular biologists do not yet understand.

So, we share this as a winter elixir, a sweet teaser with future implications. Winter will recede, Spring will taker over, and one day in June, Virginia will broadcast far and wide, the . . . Monarchs are back!

Jeff

Two Monarch Butterflies

Monarch butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park

Two beautiful, sun-filled hours working the Nichol Road trail and Doak field. Raccoon Creek State Park has time and again been my preferred destination. No other Pennsylvania state park within a 90 minute drive enjoys such rich and diverse butterfly populations. Doak field had to have 10,000 Goldenrods (Solidago spp.) in flower today. Typical for the first week in September.

As I worked the Doak field trails, my focus was on finding butterflies nectaring on the goldenrod. Nothing. Nada. Not a single butterfly was on a Solidago flowerhead. How can that be? I’ve seen butterflies feeding on goldenrod. Today, No.

So as I approached the later morning, and quitting time came closer and closer, I no decided to no longer continue my goldenrod hunt.

Moving along the southeast edge of the field, I was very surprised to have flushed up a Monarch butterfly, that had been . . . nectaring on goldenrod.  Just like the Monarch in this image was doing. Ok, so I did see a Monarch on goldenrod, this 2014 year with its near total absence of Monarchs.

Be cool Jeff, continue on your way, that sighting, a 1 in a million, literally.

I moved 10 feet forward . . . another Monarch sped up and away, it also was on goldenrod. Truth be told, I could not believe it. All morning I wanted 2 things, to see/photograph a Mourning cloak butterfly and 2) to capture a photo of a fresh Monarch on goldenrod. Skunked, I stopped looking. Then . . . .

Which of those two Monarchs will reach Louisiana by October 1st? I’ve driven from Pittsburgh to Mississippi twice. Imagine flying there on gossamer wings . . . no A/C, no music, no GPS, no cushiony  seats . . . .

Jeff