There is nothing more beautiful than a Monarch butterfly bathed in warm evening light against a backdrop of Goldenrod wildflowers. It is hard to believe that these amazing creatures will attempt to migrate to the mountains of Central Mexico, most won’t make it but for the ones who do complete their journey they represent one of the true wonders of nature !!
For years I really never seemed to care much for environmental issues but as I delved more and more into photography things began to change, mainly my experiences afield. Thru my years of photography I have noticed less and less butterflies especially the Monarchs. And at the same time more mowing of fields and roadsides and then throw in all the spraying of chemicals and you end up with a recipe of disaster for these delicate creatures.
One of the most revealing things was when in my youth driving thru the country on late summer evenings and having the windshield of our car completely covered in smashed insects. Today it’s not even close to those days of of having to turn on your windshield wipers just to clean them off.
Without milkweed and the over use of chemicals they will soon disappear altogether and go the way of the Passenger Pigeon and countless other beautiful species that once inhabited America and beyond.
Hopefully things are changing a bit though, many states are beginning to let the roadsides and right of ways grow up and they are planting Milkweed and other wildflowers to help all the pollinators, butterflies, bees and moths to continue on with what nature intended.
You can easily help as well take some of your lawn out and plant milkweed and other wildflowers instead soon you will watching all those beautiful creatures flitting about your yard and you have less mowing going on as well.
Finally got to see the Monarchs migrating thru the Madison Indiana area over this past weekend. I think there may still be a few feeding and resting at King’s Daughters Health, where I have captured so many, but I kinda threw my back out Monday and can’t get out to see. So for me it’s over for the year.
What I witnessed was definitely an incredible site, I captured over eight hundred images of them feeding and resting in the beautiful fall wildflowers that cover the fields that surround our Hospital. Every step I took I would flush out two or three butterflies and send them flying into the afternoon sky. Many times I would look up over the goldenrod that covers the grounds and watch them dancing and chasing each other above the forest of wildflowers in search of their next drink of nectar.
It really is amazing that these wonderful little winged gems used our grounds as a way station for their long trip to Mexico. Even though I witnessed hundreds of Monarchs probably less than 5% of them will make it to the mountains where they overwinter. And that is why we must help them with good conservation practices along their journey south.
Milkweed is the key, years ago it was all along our county roads and highways as well as hay fields and ditches. But now these areas get mowed way more frequently then in the past and it is probably the number one reason for their decline. Many other factors play a roll as well but habitat destruction is the one that can be solved quickly and help get them back on their feet or wings actually.
So if you have a lot of land let some of it go back to nature and instead of planting all those store bought flowers try putting out native wildflowers. Especially milkweed not only will you be helping out the Monarchs but many other butterflies and bee’s will be helped as well.