The Monarch Butterfly Migration is Triumphant

Monarch Butterfly on Goldenrod Blooms photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park in Pennsylvania, 9/5/14

Monarch Butterfly on Goldenrod Blooms photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park in Pennsylvania, 9/5/14

Full sun, minimal breeze, and a morning with temps that reached no more than 81 degrees Fahrenheit. Doak field at Raccoon Creek State Park reminded me of a map of the world, with oceans and seas of goldenrod no matter where you looked. This 100-acre gem of a meadow, in southwestern Pennsylvania was a tour de force of yellow, bright, rich yellow.

It was a thrill to see female and male monarchs everywhere. Everywhere! We all spent winter ’15 and spring ’15 fraught with concern. Was Danaus Plexxipus destined to disappear? Would the monarch migration that grade schoolers learn about, become the tale of what used to happen in our cities, towns and counties?

Americans mobilized, and ripped and tore out tired, passion-less gardens, replacing them with new, vibrant beds of milkweeds, zinnias, blazing stars, ironweeds and more. Armies of compassionate gardeners descended on their Audubon Centers, county parks, and native wildflower nurseries, seeking to learn what to plant and how to take in and nurture monarch caterpillars. Facebook swelled with folks sharing suggestions. NABA (North American Butterfly Association) Chat boards lit up with discussions and queries. An Army of Monarch butterfly lovers materialized and took action.

Well, today in Doak field, I stopped counting Monarchs . . . at 80. Eighty!! Fresh males and females. Skittish to my approach, determined to bulk-up before the anticipated flight to . . . Mexico.

The Monarch Army of Regular and Irregular Volunteers, Triumphant. Virginia, Traci, Barbara Ann, Terry, Kim, Phil, you did it!

Jeff

She Was a Sight!

Monarch Butterfly on Goldenrod photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park in Pennsylvania, 9/5/14
This was what America was hoping and praying for: Monarchs. We asked for a flock of Monarchs sizable enough to send back down to Louisiana. Enough of them that we could believe that the Miracle of the Monarch migration would continue for our children and grandchildren. Winged beauties are known to naturalists around the globe. Why? Because these ounces of lovely defy all odds, all naysayers, and fly the miles from Toronto, Boston, Albany, Teaneck, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Charlottesville, Alexandria . . . all the way to Mexico.

The science of the migration is mostly understood, sort of. This too adds to their mystique. Mystique is hard to come by nowadays. Danaus Plexippus still titillates us, even in 2015.

Just look at her. She’s strikingly beautiful, in Doak field on September 5th, as she methodically drinks nectar, pleased that several species of goldenrods would drip unlimited juice.

Oh, and she was there with happy Jeff, happy to share those 100+ acres of field with an unpretentious, drop-dead beauty.

Winter Antidote X?

Jeff