Monarch Frenzy

Frenzy is the only word I can use to describe what I have been seeing here in Madison Indiana when it comes to Monarch behavior the last couple evenings. And I think this is as close as I may ever come to witnessing a full fledged Monarch roost as I may ever come to see as well.

I work at King’s Daughters’ Health a hospital based in Southern Indiana near Madison. The hospital sits on twenty two acres of land that right now is covered in Goldenrod and White Aster. We are also right in the middle of the annual Monarch migration and with this years brood of butterflies being one of the best, some say in the last twenty years, it has definitely made for a frenzy of activity right at my own workplace!

The last two nights I have observed hundreds of these beautiful creatures and they have been so accommodating to my presence that I have been able to capture many images of these majestic little jewels, probably more than in any other year of photographing them, all in two evenings!

I don’t know how long this will last the weather tonight turned windy and wet and while leaving work I did not see nearly as many gliding over the fields like I had seen in the last couple days. Hopefully the weather will settle and maybe if I am lucky I will get a couple more shots at this amazing spectacle before they continue on their migration south to central Mexico.

There are many times in life’s journey you come across times that make such an impression on you that you carry them with you the rest of your life and I believe this may be one of those times. Some people may scoff at this but when you spend as much time as I have pursuing these and all other butterflies the last few years it’s these times that make it all worth while!

Hope you enjoy the images and maybe someday you will be able to witness a moment like this as well!

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Monarchs on the Move

The last few nights have been amazing following the Monarchs here in Madison Indiana. It looks like the Monarch Migration is in full swing and looks to be one of the most impressive ones in recent memory.

I really believe I have seen more Monarchs the last few weeks than I have see in my lifetime. One day last week I stood in one spot and gazed over a field of New England Aster and Goldenrod and counted thirty six feeding on the blooms.

But I have heard stories of people just to our north coming across roosts of these magnificent creatures where hundreds have landed for the night, that is what I am looking for! What an incredible sight would that be to behold.

I guess if I keep looking and hitting the fields and woodlots here in Southern Indiana sooner or later I will get my wish and if not it has been an incredible year for photographing and viewing butterflies.

There isn’t too much time left before they will all be gone as the seasons change but it will cool down and the leaves will change and more opportunities will be there for me to get out and photograph all the beauty the area has to offer.

Thanks for stopping by and taking a look!

Two is company Three is Death !!

monarch 6 2018

Sometimes things hide in plain site and those things can be deadly !!

While photographing Monarch butterflies in a field of New England Asters the other day near my home, in Madison Indiana, I came across these two lovely Monarchs and followed them closely for about fifteen minutes.

I spent the entire time completely enthralled with their movements and feeding patterns. Even though the wind was blowing pretty steady at the time I was able to capture several good images from the shoot.

And as I said before sometimes things can hide in plain site, even though I spent considerable time observing these two wonderful gems little did I know that the grim reaper was at their door, in the form of a Carolina Mantis. It wasn’t till I got home and downloaded the images on my computer did I notice the beast.

Hard to believe an insect so ferocious and larger than life could have been right under my nose for so long and I never even had a clue. And that is probably why they are at the top of the food chain in the insect world. And we won’t even bring up their sex life lol !!

I worked the area with the Monarchs for around fifteen minutes and then moved on not knowing if the predator got it’s prey or whether the butterflies escaped with their life’s. I guess that is one of the many mysteries of nature.

Thanks for stopping by and taking a look !!

Summer Wildflowers

It’s funny that I have spent my entire summer photographing butterflies and even though I have captured many of the great summer wildflowers that grow here in the Madison Indiana area I have neglected to post any here on my blog. And what makes it funny is that I love to photograph wildflowers more than anything else !!

Here are three examples of beautiful wildflowers that call the area home. Michigan Lily, Black-eyed Susan and the Wild Bergamot.
All three are beautiful wildflowers but their real importance comes from the fact that butterflies and other pollinators love them.

There is nothing quite as beautiful as a butterfly feeding on a wildflower in an open feed on a late summer afternoon !!

I will have many more examples of the different wildflowers that we have here in southern Indiana and will share them at a later time. Thanks for stopping by and taking a look !!

Monarch Butterflies in Love

monarch 1 2018

I captured these two Monarchs perpetuating the species and keeping the Monarch migration alive.

This couples offspring will be emerging from their chrysalis anytime now and will then begin their nearly three thousand mile migration to central Mexico for the winter.

I captured these two little lovers just outside Madison Indiana in a wildflower field filled with iron-weed and common milkweed for which the milkweed is the host plant for this beautiful butterfly. The milkweed is the only plant that the Monarch will lay its eggs on and the caterpillars will then eat the milkweed and begin the cycle anew.

The milkweed has been disappearing from its native areas because of over spraying and mowing of roadside ditches and fields which has caused a massive decline in the population of the monarch.

Although there has been a great deal of publicity on the plight of the monarchs which in the short term may help their numbers increase there still needs to be a much larger effort in restoring the fields and other natural areas back to their native state to bring back the population to its once incredible numbers !!

Swallowtails on Blazing Star

swallowtails 1 2018

Here is an image from Big Oaks NWR of a male and female swallowtail feeding on blazing star wildflowers. The blazing star is a wonderful wildflower that attracts many varieties of butterflies and other pollinators.

There is no more a beautiful site than a Blazing Star stalk covered in blooms with multiple butterflies fighting for feeding rights.

Coming across a field of these beautiful wildflowers is like hitting the jackpot for butterfly viewing, they tend to stay very close to the plant and will hold still for long periods of time as well.

Thanks for stopping by and taking a look.

Black Swallowtail

black 1 2018

Here is another great butterfly from Big Oaks NWR in Madison Indiana. This is the Black Swallowtail not to be confused with the Pipevine Swallowtail or the Spicebush Swallowtail or the Dark Morph Tiger Swallowtail, this is why butterfly identification can be confusing lol !!

It’s always a good idea to carry a butterfly book with you when searching them out and even then it’s still not easy telling them apart especially skippers !! But it is a very rewarding family or solo activity.

And now is the time to be out looking for these beautiful little flying gems, you can find them as close as your own backyard or in the biggest nature preserve just look for flowers and open sunlit areas and then you can drive yourself crazy trying to id all the different species lol !!