A Monarch Butterfly

A Monarch Butterfly in the aster flowers, July 5, 2016.

A monarch butterfly in the daisy fleabane flowers, July 5, 2016.

A flash of orange crossed the path. Could it be? I wove my way gently through the flowers until I saw him. A male monarch butterfly clung to a stalk of asters as they waved in the breeze. He stayed long enough for a few photographs before fluttering away into the bushes and out of sight.

A Monarch Butterfly in the aster flowers, July 5, 2016.

A monarch butterfly in the daisy fleabane flowers, July 5, 2016.

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A monarch butterfly in the daisy fleabane flowers, July 5, 2016.

Take care and thanks for reading.

Sarah

About Sarah

nature, outdoor, and health enthusiast, book reader, and runner
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14 Responses to A Monarch Butterfly

  1. Shady_Grady says:

    Well it’s nice to see a new post. Cool pics. How do you tell the difference between the male and female Monarchs? Do the butterflies live in the Midwest the entire year or do they migrate south?

    • Sarah says:

      Hi Shady πŸ™‚

      Thank you for visiting, your kind thoughts and your patience! πŸ™‚ You can tell it is a male monarch by the two scent patches on the hind wings. You can see the scent patches clearly in the photographs in the slide show. I wasn’t sure whether to put them in a slide show or a mosaic grouping. It might be better if the photos weren’t moving from one to another. The scent patches are hidden in the first two photos because of the angle of his wings.

      Monarch butterflies spend the summer throughout the US and in southern Canada. In the fall, they migrate south for the winter. They have wintering spots on the coast of California and in Mexico.

      Last September, I watched the number of monarchs increase each day as they migrated through the area. When I went for walks, I would count them. One day, I saw over a dozen in a two mile walk. It was fun to see so many of them. πŸ™‚ This time of year, I see them only every once in a while. There are many milkweed plants and other wildflowers in the park next door. The monarchs lay their eggs on the milkweed plants. The park is relatively new. I think it will be filled with butterflies once the butterflies figure out it is there. πŸ™‚

  2. zirah1 says:

    Great pics and I loved that there was a bird’s song in parts of the video. Do you know what kind of bird it was? And I enjoyed your answer to Grady’s question about being able to tell male from female butterfly. I was wondering the same thing.

    BTW, I use to live in Pacific Grove, CA and they have an area of town where, at a certain time of the year, some of the trees would be covered w/ monarchs. I think they even have/had a monarch butterfly festival. Seems like the last I heard they were worried about dwindling numbers of butterflies, which is a problem w/ a lot of birds, insects, etc. these days. It was really neat to see the trees just covered in them.

    • Sarah says:

      Hi Zirah πŸ™‚

      Thanks for visiting and your kind thoughts! πŸ™‚ I think it would be very cool to see the trees filled with monarch butterflies. Lucky you! πŸ™‚

      The song of the western meadowlark is the loudest in the video. They have a very pretty song. They like to sing from the tops of trees or lamp posts or bushes. I also saw one pause to sing while searching for food on the ground this spring. I collected photos and videos of them this spring. They will have a post with their cousins the eastern meadowlarks at some point. I also heard a dickcissel, song sparrow, and grasshopper sparrow in the background. The western meadowlark was probably on one of the small trees next to the the patch of asters where the monarch butterfly stopped. The dickcissels arrived in the area later than the meadowlarks and grasshopper sparrows. I hear them all the time when I am out now. They are also going to have their own post. I have lots of photos to share, but have gotten behind in sharing them. There have been many sunny mornings this year so far and sunny mornings draw me outside rather than sitting at the computer. πŸ™‚

      The number of monarch butterflies has decreased dramatically. Milkweed is considered a weed by many in agriculture and that is the plant they lay their eggs on. It seems to me that it should be possible to go about things in a way that we both grow food for ourselves and let the butterflies and birds and other wildlife have what they need as well. I don’t have any photos of milkweed at present, but will try taking some in the next few weeks.

      • zirah1 says:

        Thanks for all the input. You are really knowledgeable about birds. And I agree w/ the sentiment of your last paragraph. Creating win-win-win situations should be par for the course, not the unusual.

        • Sarah says:

          I find birds fascinating. πŸ™‚ I watch them and listen to their songs whether I am outside or inside hearing them through the open windows. I miss them when they are quiet in the winter or have flown south. When I was walking at the end of May, I spotted a couple of robin’s nests and a pair of cedar waxwings building a nest. I watch the family of robins and the family cedar waxwings for the few days that they were big enough to be seen over the top of the nest and before they left the nest. They will have their photos in posts in a little bit. And now, there are two barn swallow nests in the hallway outside my door. I am keeping very very very quiet about them. I have my finger’s crossed that the people who go around taking down the nests here are too busy with other things to pay attention until the young barn swallows hatch from their eggs and grow big enough to leave the nest. They might have hatched already. I can’t tell. One of the nests is on the top of a beam under the landing outside of my door and the other one is on a ledge near the ceiling of the hallway by the entrance. A couple of times, I have come home to see a barn swallow perched on the railing outside my door. πŸ™‚

  3. Really stunning. I would love to see some but you have helped me by sharing! Monarchs are rare visitors here. Must visit the States one day.

    • Sarah says:

      Hi πŸ™‚
      Thank you for visiting and your kind words! I am happy to share. πŸ™‚ They are beautiful butterflies. He floated across the path as I was walking home as if to say… “Follow me …” and I did. πŸ™‚ When I first saw him on the asters, he had his wings closed and then he opened them and fluttered them a bit. I am always amazed when I see them how very bright orange they are. It almost looks like I touched up the photo, but he looks in the photo like he did when I saw him. It was early in the morning and everything was sparkling. It was a real treat. I have been asked at times why I get up early to go out at sunrise for a walk with or without the camera. It is because there are so many hidden treasures to admire and in the early morning sun everything sparkles. πŸ™‚

      • zirah1 says:

        Just read this. Thought you might be interested…….”Thanks to a settlement with the Center and our allies at Center for Food Safety, the Fish and Wildlife Service now must decide whether to protect imperiled monarch butterflies under the Endangered Species Act by June 2019. We petitioned to protect monarchs in 2014 after the population plunged precipitously — over the past two decades, these once-common backyard beauties have declined by 80 percent.

        During that time, it’s estimated, monarchs may have lost more than 165 million acres of summer habitat as the milkweed their caterpillars depend on was wiped out by widespread use of the pesticide Roundup. In addition, monarchs’ overwintering habitat in Mexico is threatened by logging and a mine proposal, and their already low population was hit hard by a winter storm in March that killed millions.

        “The monarch’s future is bleaker today than ever before,” said the Center’s Tierra Curry. “Endangered Species Act protection can’t come soon enough for this beautiful but beleaguered butterfly.”

        Read more in The San Bernardino County Sun

        • Sarah says:

          Hi Zirah πŸ™‚

          Thank you for sharing the information! I had heard some of this, but didn’t realize the decline in numbers of the monarch butterflies was so large. I have heard of Roundup. I have lived near farms most of my adult life and seen ads or signs for it. I hope the monarch does get classified as endangered. I can give the people who developed the herbicide and those who use it the benefit of the doubt that they didn’t realize what they were doing. I can also appreciate the difficulties of growing food on a large scale. I still think there are ways of doing things that are better for all concerned. When it comes to something that effects the environment in a drastic way like clean water and air or the existence of a species, I think we should all have a say in it.

          On the bright side, I am encourage to see towns like this one include wildflowers and prairie grasses in their parks and by-ways plantings. These plants are very suited to the growing conditions of the area and they provide food for the birds, bees, and butterflies. There hasn’t been very much rain here in the last month or so and the areas with mowed grass are dry. The wildflowers and prairie grasses, on the other hand, are doing well. It rained in early spring quite a bit and it must have soaked the soil deeply. I am sure that the milkweed plants given a chance will rebound quickly. I don’t know how long it would take for the monarch butterfly population to increase once the milkweed is back.

          • zirah1 says:

            If you do much reading and research you’ll find that Roundup and the glyphosate it contains is one of the worst health problems we face and hopefully it will be getting more and more attention so people will start seeing that any benefit it is supposed to provide is far outweighed by the ill effects it has on humans, wildlife and the environment. It’s even showing up in people’s urine and in newborn babies. I think many of the mystery illnesses people contend w/ are actually linked to things like this that seem to infiltrated our whole lives. Many countries are starting to ban Roundup and glyphosate, but Monsanto is doing cartwheels to try and maintain its profits. Anyway, don’t get me started….there are several posts I’ve done about it at Self-help Health.

            And on a lighter note, we finally got a good soaking rain last night. Much needed and appreciated! And I love how you mention that they are using wildflowers and prairie grasses in your area. Seems like Mother Nature knows best and it is usually good to go w/ what would be natural to any eco-system, rather than try to impose our idea of what should be there. :-).

            • Sarah says:

              I appreciate your sharing what you know and have learned with me. πŸ™‚ Thank you.

              Good to hear you had some much needed rain last night. πŸ™‚ I checked on the level of the pond this morning when I was out. It looks slightly higher than it did a couple of days ago. Storms came through here yesterday.

      • So true, so many hidden treasures. Lovely to catch up with you.

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