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.
Another great wildflower that grows in our area is the Trout Lily. Found in large clusters this beautiful little flower gets it’s name for the trout like pattern on the leaves of the newly emerging wildflower.
The trout lily sprouts and flowers in early spring, before new tree leaves grow. Plants grow from a white bulb that have a tooth-like shape. This wildflower will usually grow when underground rhizomes spread and form clusters or colonies. Mature plants also spread by seeds. Ants can scatter the seeds, eating part of the seed and leaving the rest to germinate. And some trout lily colonies can be 200 to 300 years old.
The plants are found in woodland habitats and moist hillsides the stamens can either be yellow or black and can be quite large for such a small plant. The Trout Lily is just another great example of all the wonderful wildflowers that are on display right now just waiting for you to view.
Monarch on Goldenrod
Monarch on Goldenrod
Monarch on Goldenrod
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!
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 !!