Tue 14-May-13 11:48 PM | edited Wed 15-May-13 12:13 AM by birdied
This is one of the first and only Monarchs I have seen this year. Last year by this time , I had so many who began their life cycle in my yard on the Mexican Milkweed. Not so this year.
The milkweed is critical to the life cycle of the monarch. They lay eggs on the underside of leaves. The larva eat the leaves . They can attach and form the chrysalis and then the cycle begins again.
It has been reported that monarch population is at the lowest it has been in 2 decades. Drought, early migration due to warm weather are some of the cited reasons.
An alarming cause of decline is the planting of soy beans and corn in the US farmlands that have been genetically altered to be able to withstand the use of herbicides. In the past the milkweed would grow between the rows of soy and corn . Now the herbicides are killing the milkweed and with it the source of life for the monarch.
It would be a true shame to lose one of the largest migrations in the world.
The chrysalis , larva shots are from last year. Not sure I will have any this year to shoot.
You captured very well the magic of the transformation!
Your first picture is so stripped from "other" elements than the essential that it looks like a design study, striking!
The last has a surprising effect on my eye: the scene is very well framed and rendered, but the surprise comes from the brilliant flowers vs the somewhat mat wings of the monarch. Of course, one needs to be seen as the other just needs to be recognized!
Birdie, Very nice pics--congrats! Monarchs have always been one of my favorite insects--so much so that in grad. school at U.C. Berkeley I wanted to do my doctoral dissertation on their migrations. Unfortunately (or fortunately, as it turned out), I could not find any faculty member willing to take on a grad. student who was interested in studying the topic because of the difficulty (and cost) of conducting the research.
My experience here in N. Florida is very similar to yours in that we have not seen a monarch adult locally for several years, although we do have occasional milkweed plants along our dirt road. Nor have we seen any of the milkweed butterfly mimics this year, or the Gulf fritillary, or the zebra longwings in any numbers on our local passion vines this year. I have to wonder if climate change/pesticides are doing them in these days?? Dick
Thank you Dick. My knowledge is minimal , to say the least. I have only been into nature and wildlife photography for a couple of years. I enjoy learning about what I find. The decline in the butterflies is very disheartening. Climate change they may be able to adapt to. Loss of habitat and herbicides, probably not. Very sad. Last October we were visiting Dauphin Island,Al. We saw a small bit of the Gulf Fritillary migration. Quite something to see and hopefully many more will have the opportunity to witness it .
Excellent sequence Birdie. I had the pleasure of following and photographing this cycle many years ago. It's a fun project and my kids enjoyed it. Love the gold necklace on the chrysalis and the magical appearance of the monarch's wings as the chrysalis becomes translucent.