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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Love Butterfly Style

Maybe I am showing my age but I thought the title from that show from the seventies “Love American Style” was an appropriate rip off title for tonight’s post. It wasn’t exactly Emmy award material but it had a catchy theme song and started the “Happy Days” and “Mork & Mindy” series.

OK that wasn’t exactly that funny or informative so moving on to the real reason I am here and that’s to share some images of the real love making inside the butterfly world.

I captured these wonderful butterflies in compromising situations this past summer in the Madison Indiana area. I really tried to give them their privacy but in the interest of nature photography I had to go against my best judgement and record the deed.

In my defense they really never tried to cover themselves up and seemed to enjoy their exhibitionist performance. Well maybe they didn’t enjoy the exhibition part and only cared for the mating part.

Now this whole post has become a train wreck and maybe I should just stick to posting images of butterflies and stay way from trying to make a humorous blog post. So here we have the Cloudless Sulphurs, Silvery Checkerspots and Viceroys doing what they do best making baby butterflies or should I say baby caterpillars, so they can carry on the great cycle of life these beautiful creatures are traveling.

Thanks for putting up with so called humor and hope yo enjoy the images!!

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 !!

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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 !!

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 !!

Zebra Swallowtail

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Another awesome butterfly captured at Big Oaks NWR in Madison Indiana. This is one of my favorite butterflies not because of their beauty or elegance but because of their aggressive nature.

As an example last year I was sitting in a lawn chair photographing great spangled fritillaries on butterfly weed at Splinter Ridge FWA in southern Indiana. The plant was covered with the fritillaries but this one beat up zebra would fly in and run off every other butterfly on that plant and even took aim at me a couple times flying right up into my face just daring me to do something !!

So even though they are one of the most beautiful and unique butterflies that grace our local fields and woodlots it is their fighting spirit that really makes them one of my favorites !!

Thanks for stopping by and having a look.

Tiger Swallowtail

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Another great butterfly the Tiger Swallowtail probably the most abundant butterfly here in the Madison Indiana area.

This wonderful butterfly is one of the largest and most beautiful butterflies to view and photograph, generally they will sit pretty still if you don’t move to fast and they really enjoy the many garden flowers that we have here in Madison.

This subject was photographed at Big Oaks NWR and was feeding on Blazing Star which is one of the best wildflowers for attracting pollinators.

Hope you enjoy the image and if you get out in the fields or backyard keep your eyes peeled for this great Butterfly !!