Thursday, September 2, 2010

Chasing the Monarch

The Monarch butterflies have begun their migration south. While I haven't seen masses of these beautiful creatures recently, I have seen quite a few more than in previous years, which is, I feel a good sign for poor old Mother Earth.

I have spent a lot of time trying to photograph at least one this year and usually find myself without a camera when they are nearby dancing around each other in intricate ariel manouevres. This particular evening a few days ago I was more successful.

Because the insect didn't halt on a plant and pose nicely for me I ran around the back yard, the side yard, the front yard, into the paddock and then the pasture following it hither and yon. These aren't particularly good shots, but perhaps the best I can do this time round. The second one, shooting into the sunset looks a bit surreal to me - as if I'd pasted a picture of the butterfly on the photograph - or "Photoshopped" it.

Wikipedia says: The Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) is a milkweed butterfly (subfamilyDanainae), in the family Nymphalidae. It is perhaps the best known of all North American butterflies. Since the 19th century, it has been found in New Zealand, and in Australia since 1871 where it is called the Wanderer.[3][4][5] In Europe it is resident in the Canary Islands, the Azores, and Madeira, and is found as an occasional migrant in Western Europe. Its wings feature an easily recognizable orange and black pattern, with a wingspan of 8.9–10.2 centimetres (3½–4 in).[6] (The Viceroy butterfly has a similar size, color, and pattern, but can be distinguished by an extra black stripe across the hind wing.) Female Monarchs have darker veins on their wings, and the males have a spot called the "androconium" in the center of each hind wing[7] from which pheromones are released. Males are also slightly larger.
The Monarch is famous for its southward migration and northward return in summer in the Americas which spans the life of three to four generations of the butterfly.

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