Your Monarch Prediction?

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

Six years into, and we have seen burgeoning interest in Monarch butterflies. More and more us of fret over why we find fewer of them in the east most one-third of the United States.

We read most recently that the populations of Monarch butterflies in those central Mexico conifer forests are seriously down again. I hope that those reports are incorrect, but find myself concerned that another summer and fall will produce fewer Monarch sightings here in western Pennsylvania.

In 2016 I spotted very few in and around Pittsburgh. Happily, I photographed this male in the Butterflies & Blooms Briar Patch Habitat in Eatonton, Georgia. There were many Monarchs flying there when I visited in August and again when I returned there in September., Virginia Linch verified that central Georgia enjoyed good Monarch numbers last year.

With 2017 upon us . . . What do you Predict? How numerous do you expect Monarchs to be in your state, your county, and in your own garden?


Monarchs Flying?

Monarch butterfly photographed at Raccoon Creek State Park, PA

Just heard from a friend living north of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Monarch Mama, nearly 4 hours north, in western New York state, reports that she has seen a healthy number of Monarchs today, seeking nectar-pumping flowers in local Jamestown, New York area meadows and flowerbeds.

That report from a seasoned Monarch expert is Sweet News for us. Desperation, the result of shared experiences: He says he’s seen 2 so far this year / She replies that she’s only seen 3, has enabled an apathy to settle in for some.

Now this credible report, jars our memories, for in late summer 2015, we finally  saw some Monarchs in the northeast. Those Danaus plexippus were surfing the warm air currents down from Canada, and perhaps very northern New York, New Hampshire and Vermont?

You drag your bones out of bed, get ready for your debut in the outside world, grab your cup of coffee . . . and just out your door, you do the Happy! and take a sustained look at your beautiful garden . . . and OMGa Monarch. A Monarch!! That’s a preferred way to begin your day! No?  Stay tuned.


A Monarch Tale of Woe: this Superstar is damaged. Shoot or Don’t Shoot?

Monarch Butterfly on Tithonia photographed by Jeff Zablow in the Briar Patch Habitat in Eatonton, GA

It was getting to be a problem. Here we were in Georgia, at the Butterflies & Blooms at the Briar Patchon my 3rd trip down to this butterfly destination. Good images of Monarch butterflies just weren’t happening. First the USPS delivery of processed slides were stolen by ditzy teenagers from the front of my Pittsburgh home, only to later be found strewn on various lawns along the boulevard that we live on (after days of rain). So my May 2015 images were lost. Then, later, it wasn’t that the Briar Patch doesn’t have Monarchs. They have lots of Monarchs. Problem was that the Monarchs refused to permit good approach. My approach was met with Off it goes!

I got the feeling that folks were looking forward to have a look at the photographic product of all of that time (Glorious time!) spent in the Briar Patch. Set a moniker for 2015 for butterfly enthusiasts east of the Mississippi, and it would be: Year of the Monarchs.

Then one day in August, this stunner came along. My approach? Tolerated. The light available? Just fine. My position vis a vis the butterfly? Good. Set time on the Mexican sunflower head? Good and not rushed.

Something was just not right though. What was it? Oh oh! This butterfly had sustained major bird-struck damage to the right hindwing!! It was a Superstar with a glaring rip in her gown or in his tux. Shoot or don’t shoot?

Virginia, Stanley, Sylbie, Dave and Phil . . .


The Monarch That Americans Tolerate

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I’m more than half way through Benjamin Franklin, An American Life by Walter Isaacson (Simon & Schuster, 2003). I’m enjoying it alot, and PS 244 in Brooklyn taught us little to nothing about this period in our history. The English royalty is always in the background, playing a silent but critical role in the disfunction that existed between the Colonies and England. I’m now on page 301, with the great majority of the colonists through and done with the King and Crown. Franklin loved the Crown, but came to realize the our place in the British Empire was cooked, done, over.

Now, Americans retain a great Love for this Monarch, (Danaus Plexippus). has posted many images of Monarch butterflies, yet personally, I do not get bored seeing a good one. We suffered a real scare these last years, with doomsayers forecasting the flight of the very last East Coast U.S. Danaus Plexippus.

Now that we are hearing that the flight of the East Coast and Mid-Western Monarchs is substantial, we can relax at least this one tension in our lives.

This one (gender?) is fresh, and that forewing flash of burnt orange bedazzles. In this photograph, we’re at the Outdoor Gardens of the Phipps Conservatory, in the center of my home city, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.


N.B., The 122 scans are back from Rewind Memories, and very soon we will be sharing our images from New York, Pennsylvania, Georgia and Florida. Yippee! You Bet!

“This is a Picture of a Monarch when they Used to . . . “

Monarch Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park. Jeff blogs about the art and science of butterflies at
Not this morning. I just came back into the house, after checking the front and sideyard Common Milkweed plants. Most of the 40 or so flower heads have gone to seed now, and with just 7 or 8 still in bloom, that nagging thought returns.

Back in the house, to my Neumade slide cabinet, I took out all of my Monarch slides, and checked their dates. The oldest of them lacked pencil-written dates, though one from June 2002 gave me pause. June 2002, a female nectaring contentedly on Teasel. Who among us in the last 3 years has been fortunate enough to see that?

My July ‘keepers’ were taken where this image of a female was taken, in Raccoon Creek State Park, just 45 minutes west of Pittsburgh (8 hours west of New York  City). July 12th and 27th, respectively.

My August best were taken in August ’09, ’10, and ’12, and ’14. The Septembers are dated ’07, ’10, and ’14.

I just don’t want to ever have to say to a young, interested child, “This is a picture of a Monarch butterfly, when they used to . . . . ”

Resigned to bad news, no. But I want this winged beauty in my future.