The Perils and Plight of the Priceless Monarch Butterfly

Monarch on Mexican Milkweed

Monarch on Mexican Milkweed

Monarch nectaring on native Frostweed

Monarch nectaring on native Frostweed

Monarch Butterfly

Monarch Butterfly

Monarch favoring Mexican Butterfly Weed instead of native Frostweed

Monarch favoring Mexican Butterfly Weed instead of native Frostweed

Monarch reallyt likes Mexican Butterfly Weed. Most of them favored this plant to the native Frostweed in my yard.

Monarch reallyt likes Mexican Butterfly Weed. Most of them favored this plant to the native Frostweed in my yard.

Monarch nectaring on Mexican Butterfly Weed

Monarch nectaring on Mexican Butterfly Weed

The Monarch butterfly is found in various parts of the world such as Canada, USA, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico and, even is a rarity in Great Britain if weather conditions are just right. It is the only butterfly as far as I’ve found that migrates an extremely long distance to winter in the fir clad mountains of central Mexico. In other parts of the world where the climate will sustain it year round there is no need to migrate.

In Canada and the US it goes through four complete life cycles where the fourth cycle is responsible for the first cycle of the next year. The 4th or last stage is born in September and October but here in my yard of central Texas there were three butters that were born between November 12 and the 19th. There were possibly more since I was only watching three chrysalis that I happened to find.

The last or 4th stage butterfly migrates to Mexico and those butters have a life cycle of 6 and possibly 8 months. During the winter months the butters in Mexico congregate in huge masses as they hang on the branches of the fir trees in the mountains. The hibernating butters, simply put “hang out.” This 4th stage butterfly comes out of hibernation about February and March, mates and then begins its return to the US and Canada. This last stage will look for milkweed plants as it begins winging its way north and east. The Monarch butterfly only hosts on Milkweed which has rapidly declined as progress marches forward and replaces native habitat with highways, byways, homes, and shopping centers.

But lets not forget the use of pesticides which have also contributed to declining numbers. There is one in use that is similar to DDT.Scientists have now identified this one that points to colony collapse of bee hives. So this one pesticide is also now killing Monarch butterflies as well. Or at least believed so. Studies are ongoing and it will take years to get the government to ban its use.

And finally the wintering grounds are now being decimated by illegal logging and fir tree clearance to grow crops for the drug trade.

This year by early November it was estimated that only 3 million Monarchs had arrived. Once upon a time the wintering Monarchs covered the fir trees of many acres. Now scientists say the trees used for hibernation amounts to less than a few acres.

Then the last straw is a huge debate involving the Mexican butterfly milkweed. Some scientists believe this plant is potentially harmful since it is not “the real deal.” Meaning that it is a non native. However, surely some of the Monarchs have been nectaring on this plant in Mexico during migration for eons.

Experts tell us to plant more milkweed and I say that any milkweed that sustains the caterpillars and results in a hale and healthy butterfly then it surely is ok. No one has banned its sale in the nurseries. If “we” are to plant more milkweed then somebody needs to make the native seeds available. I have searched high and low for seeds on the Internet and have yet to find a source. My last hope is the Natural Gardener and The Lady Bird Johnson Native Plant Center in Austin, Texas.

In March and April the eggs are laid on milkweed plants. It takes about four days for the eggs to hatch into baby caterpillars, called larvae. The larvae then eat and grow and after about two weeks, the caterpillar leaves the host plant and attaches its chrysalis to another plant or an object. Metamorphosis then begins and generally takes 12-14 days but one that I observed took about 4 weeks before it emerged from its metamorphosing chamber. The chrysalis was attached to the stem of a Copper Canyon Daisy plant.

The first three stages of the Monarch has a life cycle of 2 to 6 weeks and sometimes a bit longer. Only the last stage butterflies live 6-8 months.

The overall color pattern is one that I can best describe as a stained glass effect. The orange and black coloration of the Monarch does not sound impressive but after seeing a Monarch in real time I believe anyone would agree that the Monarch is king of the butterflies.

Butterfly egg of the Black Swallowtail on Rue,  I do not have a pic of a Monarch egg which is a bit more oval than this one.

Butterfly egg of the Black Swallowtail on Rue, I do not have a pic of a Monarch egg which is a bit more oval than this one.

monarch caterpillar eating leaves of Mexicam Butterfly Weed. Small dark globs on leaves is frass (caterpillar feces)

monarch caterpillar eating leaves of Mexicam Butterfly Weed. Small dark globs on leaves is frass (caterpillar feces)

In less than 1-2 hours this caterpillar became the jade green chrysalis.

In less than 1-2 hours this caterpillar became the jade green chrysalis.

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Jade green chrysalis, with gold rim at the top. Firmly attached to a twig

Jade green chrysalis, with gold rim at the top. Firmly attached to a twig

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003 (5)

Chrysalis of Monarch butterfly. Its former home where  it changed from caterpillar to a butterfly

Chrysalis of Monarch butterfly. Its former home where it changed from caterpillar to a butterfly

Monarch drying its wings in semi shade. Chrysalis lower left just below dried leaf.

Monarch drying its wings in semi shade. Chrysalis lower left just below dried leaf.

Monarch drying its wings. Frequent changing of shady to sunny. Time about 2:30pm

Monarch drying its wings. Frequent changing of shady to sunny. Time about 2:30pm

Newborn Monarch waiting for its wings to dry. It  was shady in this photo.

Newborn Monarch waiting for its wings to dry. It was shady in this photo.

Newborn" Monarch. My Lt. hand held bloom and Rt. hand held camera. Last pic before it flew away.

Newborn” Monarch. My Lt. hand held bloom and Rt. hand held camera. Last pic before it flew away.

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74 thoughts on “The Perils and Plight of the Priceless Monarch Butterfly

  1. I’ll be showing these vibrant, beautiful shots to my son. Amazing close-up of the caterpillar, Yvonne. I’m so happy to be seeing all these comments.

    Xx
    Diana

    • Diana, thank you. I hope your son likes the pics of the “cats” and the “butters.” This blog was begun with the intention of providing a site for information. Granted it is limited to central Texas but none the less if someone wants to know about some of the flora and fauna and domestic pets of central Texas then I’ve got just a bit of something that might be of interest. I have a bit of self promotion in this blog. I thought a tad of diversion wouldn’t be too boring. :-)

  2. hayley says:

    It’s monarch butterfly season here at the moment and it was nice to reconnect with my childhood memories and experiences of this amazing process when I visited friends over Xmas/New Year. One had plants with several caterpillars and spoke excitedly about a recent chrysalis transformation. She emailed a couple of weeks later, upset, as had been monitoring a hatching and stepped away for five minutes, returning to find a wasp had eaten the wings of the fledgling monarch. Nature is as cruel as it is beautiful.

    Excellent photos, Yvonne.

    • Oh that is sad to lose a newly hatched butter. The are so beautiful when in pristine condition. So interesting that you have Monarchs in NZ. The butters here are in serious decline and several factors come into play. Don’t know if you read about the plight of the Monarchs but it is very serious. Thank you for visiting and for the nice compliment. Much appreciated.

  3. Beautiful post!!! Fabulous shots!!!

  4. Bill says:

    I really enjoyed this excellent post. We seemed to have a good butterfly year here. We were particularly blessed with lots of Easter Tiger Swallowtails. But the pesticide use you mentioned has been terrible for honeybees. How much of nature’s glory are we willing to sacrifice for the benefit of industrial agriculture? Unless we rise up as a culture and refuse to buy food grown using pesticides, then we are putting much of the world’s beauty, including these magnificent creatures, at risk.

  5. Val says:

    PS – That mexican butterfly plant must have VERY tasty nectar!

    • Val, when I bought 5 plants of the Mexican Milkweed I really did not expect to get any Monarchs in August since I had planted the milkweed rather late- maybe it was late June or there abouts. But a few Monarchs began showing up sometime in August but I have read that those are early migrants. By September I saw a few more, then in late October I was seeing an increasing number of 4, 8,12 and then most that I saw one day was maybe 18. This was over about 2 weeks or so period of time. Some laid eggs and I found 3 chrysalis that I know for sure hatched. Maybe there were more. The most caterpillars that I found were 6 total spread over 2 plants. I hope to get some seeds soon since I found a seed source in the Hill country- it was on the “net.” I want to grow some native milkweed since I think it blooms earlier than the Mexican Milkweed. The early north moving migrants need something to lay their eggs on. Hopefully I can have some early blooming weed but that remains to be seen since I have no idea how long it takes the seed to germinate, grow and, bloom.

      I’ll still have the Mexican weed but I’m not sure if it survived the freeze this past week. At any rate 2 local nurseries grow their own to sell and I can get fairly large plants at about 4-6 bucks per pot in the spring. It grows very fast. Quite an amazing plant. Those butters plus lots of other butterfly species love the blossoms.

  6. Val says:

    Very interesting post, Yvonne, and beautiful photos! Well done! :)

  7. chatou11 says:

    Wow, your post is so interesting Yvonne and you pictures so good.. congratulation Yvonne. Thank you for sharing with us.

  8. sybil says:

    Butterflies, bees and here in Nova Scotia, bats. The bat population here has dropped by 95%, but this time it is not man’s greed but rather a virus — “white nose” — that causes the infected bats to wake from hibernation and lose valuable body heat and strength and die.

    Your butterfly photos are just lovely. Thank you for drawing attention to this situation.

    What a mess we are making of this lovely world.

    • Thanks Sybil for commenting. I’ve read about the “white nose” disease in bats. Sure do hope that they are not completely wiped out. Surely somwhow along the way they will become resistant to the disease. Bats, after all are quite beneficial. Well all of nature is beneficial and can not be replaced once it is gone.

  9. Office Diva says:

    Fairy Blogmother: The Monarch may be the king of the butterflies, but you are surely the Royal Scribe/Photographer of the species! These are awesome. I like the last photo in the first series – “Monarch nectaring on Mexican Butterfly Weed”, the way her wings are folded up and the crisp shot of the little flowers. Very lovely!

    This is a superb post; I enjoyed learning all about Her Majesty and her Travels. Looking forward to more posts about the Royal Family. Happy Weekend!

    • Blogchild that you for the very nice comment. I’s sorry to be so tardy with my reply. Those are lucky shots with many clicks of the camera. And shots of many butterflies. I wade through hundreds of pics to find what looks to be the best poses. There are more butterfly posts sitting over in that drafty spot. Even though it is winter I will post those. Not much to see in drab central Texas. No snow or lovely ice crystals or lovely snowy scenes like the northern bloggers get to photograph.

  10. Hi Yvonne. What a fantastic post. You have obviously put in a lot of work and research and have produced something really worthwhile. Great images too.
    The plight of butterflies is so related to our own difficult future. It is really a shame that our environment is being sacrificed for the short term gains of a few. It is hard to tell folks in the developing countries to do without when we have already mostly destroyed our own environment. Well, they are not doing it all on their own. But that’s a diatribe to wait for another day.
    You have produced some lovely butterfly images and I am just hoping that the numbers bounce back so you can make some more.

    • Steve, thank you for the very nice comment. I had lots more to say/write about but I kept cutting and cutting to make the info as simple as I could without boring everyone with too much info.

      I was still seeing several Queens, about 15+ sulfurs, Red Admiral, Buckeye, White checkered Skipper, an unknow skkipper, Common Snout, and 2 Variegated Fritillaries yesterday, (Tuesday). Today 2 Queens and a sulfur. I always miss the butters when the temp goes too low. But on days that warm up above 50-55 degrees we still have a few that fly all year round. None of those are very pretty though and extremely difficult to photograph.

      Yep our planet is fast falling into total disrepair. That is my best description for our own plight and frankly I am afraid we are in grave peril. ~yvonne

  11. Just Rod says:

    Hi Yvonne: just found out how you get email notification of comments made on your blog. Go to Dash Board, under Settings is an item called DISCUSSIONS scroll down in discussions and you have several options to check for Email Me Whenever: The first box is someone posts a comment. Check that and it should email you when you have new comments. You can end up with a lot of emails – but at least you know without having to keep checking back.
    Hope this helps
    Rod

    • Things go awry on my blog like just now when my reply to you went away. Some of it might be my computer. I have subscribed to my own blog just so I can be sure to get the notices but sometimes things get unchecked- so I will go check :-) on that in a bit. I really don’t mind all that much of going back and looking on my blog to see what is happening. There is a lot about WP that I don’t know and will probably forever remain ignorant about the inner workings.

      I get some email notices. Just not all of them which I find odd. Thanks for the information. ~yvonne

      PS: I had 2 Gulf Fritillaries on the Mexican Butterfly weed,a Red Admiral, one sulfur of which is next to impossible to identify, and a Skipper that moved like lightening. Toward the end of the week I think we are due for a freeze with temps down to 28 degrees are so. 28 degrees by the way is pretty cold for us. I reckon if it gets that low it will kill the plants that are still blooming.

      • Just Rod says:

        Good luck with the comments. What a wonderful collection of flutterbys you had! I envy you the opportunity to watch them so late in the year. Let’s hope the ‘cold’ doesn’t do too much damage just yet.
        I saw three snowflakes, a dead twig and a couple of huddling house sparrows today. Mind you, I was lazy and stayed inside all day. Yesterday was a long day with church in the morning, friends over for dinner and a concert by a great Winnipeg Song-writer performer – Steve Bell. We didn’t get home before 11pm – which is very late for us. So took it easy today. Just making arrangements to dog-sit our daughter’s dogs the day and night before Christmas Eve. One (Twiggy) is a very short, but l-o-n-g basset,dachshund cross, the other (Tank) is a very large English Mastiff. They love us coming to see them – but get jealous of each other and there is a lot of pushing and shoving – Susan landed on the floor in a heap one time. Twiggy runs underneath Tank to get at us. Dogs make you laugh.

      • Rod, I actually am very grateful to live in such a mild climate with not many cold days. But this wk-end freeze is predicatd to be one of freezing rain. Now that is a real booger roo.

        Your sightings for today made me laugh. Three snow flakes and some house sparrows, and a twig had me laughing. I wish that I could write funny as you. It is a keen talent indeed. One of God’s gifts to you. It helped lift me a bit out of my depression. If you had not written saying you wanted to see those Monarchs, that post would not be on my blog yet.

        Now about those dogs. So hilarious again with the extremes in size of your daughter’s dogs. I can see how Susan was “knocked or tripped to the floor. Twiggy can trip and Tank can knock you down. Muddy the big lab tripped me when he was about 6-7 months old. He ran up behind me and hit me in the bend of my knee. I fell hard face first onto gravel. Gee did that hurt. I have also been tripped by a passle of 12 cats all running ahead of me as I was carrying two water buckets. I fell face first, covered in cats that went flying in all directions when the steel buckets hit the concrete floor.

        I went to You Tube to see Steve Bell. What a talent who writes beautiful Christian songs. I watched two videos and one was filmed in a church in Winnipeg. Truely beautiful. I’m so glad you mentioned him. I will see about obtaining one of his CDs.

      • Just Rod says:

        Oh those sound like some bad falls. You be careful. Im glad you enjoyed the Steve Bell you-tube items. He is very talented. Last night he sang accompanied by the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra – his music sounds quite different with the huge sound of the orchestra. I really like it, but he is at his best when singing with just his guitar and maybe a bass and drums.
        Once a month or so he puts on an inexpensive concert in local churches. It helps them raise funds and he tells some wonderful stories of his life and faith.
        He is a very gifted theologian as well. He and a priest friend started up a different kind of Anglican church aimed at today’s generation. The church now gets over 300 people – mainly families – each Sunday evening. It is called st benedict’s table (all lower case), we go there once in a while.
        I’m so glad you persevered with the Monarchs – you got a really great response to it – what will your next project be? Take care of yourself – Rod

      • Yes, I am being pretty careful since that fall back in March. I have to remain mobile for several reasons.

        I looked up st benedict’s Winnipeg and found the church to be quite interesting. The church looks to be pretty large from the photo on Google. There is a website with all sorts of info. Quite imporessive.

        I’m not sure what I’ll post but it will probably be the Queen butters this time since I seem to be in a majestic mood with the Monarch-ees. :-) But I hope that people will not be burned out on butterflies.

        I am planning to meet with my best friend soon and she will begin feeding me info about Scarlet the Irish Setter that she rescued from abuse and neglect. Scarlet lived to be 16 I think. Nada took wonderful care of her. My friend has some wonderful dog stories. We are sort of like peas in a pod in many ways. I took in cats and she gave a home to the dogs. Her husband helped her some with all of them. So I do want to get back to post stories about dogs and cats. Now if I could make those stories funny…

  12. What amazingly fantastic photos. Wonderful post, Yvonne. Thank you.

  13. shoreacres says:

    This certainly was worth waiting for. I’ve never seen a monarch caterpillar – at least that I remember. Surely I did when I was growing up in Iowa – at the time, it was one of the most milkweed-wealthy states in the Union. I was so happy to see that the nature gardens at the Crystal Bridges Museum had various posters and plaquards around not only telling people how important the butterflies are, but also providing tips for helping them.

    There are several milkweeds that grow on Nash prairie. When I was there two weeks ago, many of them still were in seed. The gal who was giving us the tour said we could take grasses, and such. I know they collect seed there, too. I’ll get in touch with her and see if milkweed seed is something we can gather. If it’s ok, I’ll try and get myself over there before the next heavy rain and wind comes through to at least check things out for you.

    I wish I’d known when I was in Kansas. There was milkweed everywhere in the ditches. Well, not everywhere, but there was a lot. Whenever you have a minute, let me know if there are any other seeds you’d like, and I might be able to find them.

    Wonderful post, and fabulous photos. They may not be as sharp as you like, but they surely communicate as well as anyone’s.

    • Thanks so much Linda for your lovely comment and offer to find seeds for me. I will gladly pay you to obtain any that you might locate . Also I wonder if the museum sells seeds. I would love some Big Bluestem grass seed as well as any milkweed seeds. I’m afraid that by now most seeds have probably all fallen to the ground. I’m cutting this short as this is my second reply. I hit the return too hard and it erased all that I had written. ~yvonne

  14. sybil says:

    Wonderful photos.

    I blame Monsanto and their ilk.

    • Thanks Sybil for commenting and for your input. You are so right about Monsanto. Too much power and chemical companies do not care about the environment or what happens to future generations of humans and wildlife.

  15. Kathy says:

    Thanks for sharing about the plight of this “King”. Don’t you wish sometimes that we lived in a more innocent time when butterflies weren’t imperiled? Hopefully something can be done…

    • Thanks so much Kathy for commenting. Yes indeedy it would be super-duper great to return to a time when wildlife was plentiful and not in peril. Those days are gone forever- at least in my life time.

  16. Littlesundog says:

    Since I have been aware of the plight of the Monarchs and the dwindling milkweed plant, I have been making efforts to leave milkweed plants grow here in our pasture. I have found the caterpillars eat my dill, which I’ve allowed to happen, much to my dismay of course because I use a lot of dill! But I will see if I can locate milkweed seed. Surely I could even harvest it here?

    Great post Yvonne. Your photographs are stunning!

    • Thank you so much for your nice comment and compliment. I would be ever so grateful if you can save some milkweed seeds. The Mex. Milkweed transplants very well. Our native ones do not-hnece the need for seed. I am not able(time and energy) to get out into the country to look for seeds but might try to enlist a nurse friend that lives in the country near Vally Mills, Tx. Maybe she can look for seeds for me. I’m not sure how long it takes to produce a mature plant but I am glad that you have begun saving the plants. The Monarchs really need our help.

  17. Thanks for sharing all this information and wonderful pictures, Yvonne!

  18. TexWisGirl says:

    really awesome progression of stages of life shown in your photos. i was blessed to see a few monarchs this fall – first time that i could remember in years.

    • Thanks Theresa for commenting. I am happy that you saw Monarchs this Fall. Maybe some of then have begun adapting to a different pattern of migration depending on weather factors, etc. I was surprised to have some stop and breed, lay eggs and then actually get some cats,chrysalis, and new born to photograph. All of these were quite healthy looking. I don’t use pesticides in my yard at all.

  19. A fantastic set of photographs, Yvonne. I’ve never seen the monarch, not even in a butterfly farm so the photographs and the write-up really put the information across. Thank you for a really informative post.

    • Thanks so much Mike. I’m glad that you learned a bit from this post. I’ve never been to a butterfly farm and hope that I can do that someday.

      • There’s one about 30 miles away from me. They are a mixture of education for children and some elements of conversation. Good opportunities for photographers as well….http://www.pilipalas.co.uk/

      • Mike, I clicked on the site and it is a very good one. It has quite a bit of info on how to raise butterflies. Very educational for kids. It seems like a great place for parents to take their children to learn about nature.

      • There are quite a few butterfly places in the UK, Yvonne, and as you say very educational. Pili pals were going to run a photography day for us but unfortunately we had to pull out due to several being ill. I’m hoping to try and organise a visit there next year.

      • Going to the center for butterfly photos next year should be quite an adventure,Mike. Hope to see your pics of the butters sometime next year. Hope all in your group are well. Might be that you just have to go with fewer people if the place has not put a quota on how many photographers must show up in order for a “special day” there.

  20. Well, I know you have been working on this post for a while and had problems with the pesky blog, but it’s to our advantage, so thank you very much for persevering and taking the time to post not just a brilliant set of photos of the life cycle, but also lots of information.

    So, if they can be found in GB, are they in Europe? And why are they drying their wings? which incidentally, most definitely look like stained glass windows.

    Lovely post Y, and well worth waiting for.

    • Hi Ms Gib. I’m approving this and will get back to you with answers to your questions. Must move along and get some chores out of the way.

      • Ok,I’m back for awhile. so I am going to answer your questions in a more ‘scientific manner.”

        The adult butterfly emerges from its chryslasis and expands its wings by pumping haemolymph(not blood) into the wing veins.

        After emerging the butterfly uses a liquid which softens the shell of the chrysalis. So the wings need to be dry and essentially unfurl sort of like a folded flag is unfurled by the wind. Well not a good comparison but that’s my take on the matter.

        The butterfly generally sits on the empty chrysalis to expand and harden its wings or some other surface such as the twig that the Monarch was sitting on in one of the photos of this post. So the wings are essentially wet and thus the need to dry the wings. Every minute or so the butterfly opens and closes its wings to dry them and also to harden them. Also it probably helps to make the butterfly strong and prepares it for flight as well. I have read that after emergence from the chrysalis the butterfly also needs to rest since the act of emergence is difficult and stressful.

        It takes the Monarch to be ready for flight an hour or more after it is “born.” That is start to finish and on its way to begin its life cycle as a brand new butterfly. Temperature affects how quickly it is ready for flight.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pupa#Chrysalis

        Best regards, Y.

      • Thank you for that excellent and in-depth reply, all of which was totally new to me. Naughty WP didn’t tell me you had replied so I thought I would sneak over to peek in case you had because it’s not like you to say you will do something and then not follow through.

        I have a very banal butterfly post to make. It is Snowy’s first kill :( A cabbage white! His second kill was met with more approval – a nasty buzzy fly :)

      • You know WP does not notify me of most of my comments and I never get notice of any replies to my comments. I have to click in the Dashboard area under notifications but maybe that is how it works and has always been that way.

        And good dog, Snowy for killing a fly. He is apparently a dog with excellent reflexes. :-)

      • Don’t you get the little orange notification thingy top right?

      • I meant notices in email. Yes the comment thingy in the Dashbaord shows numbers in orange.

        I just remebered that I did not include how Monarchs get to Great Britian. They are blown off course generally by hurricane winds. I read of one in GB and one on the Isle of Wight. Go to Google and type in Monarch butterfly in Great Britian. There is an article about the one that showed up n GB. Hundreds of people were photographing it. Quite a rarity. Had a tattered wing and I’m sure it lived out its life in that one area where there was plenty of nectar or until some fanatic collected it for a dead butterfly collection. :-)

      • Just Rod says:

        Hi Yvonne: when you enter a reply to someone a box shows up under the comment area a check box then Notify me of follow-up comments by email.
        Check it and you should get every comment coming in on that post. I tho there is somewhere under notifications in READER where you can check if you want to receive comments in email. I’ll have a look when I get a minute.

      • Right, see my answer/reply to this one to you previously. I used to have Gerard, Rod, Andrew, Val, and Lottie checked. There were so many comments I finally unchecked them all. I was deleting so much that I was accidently deleting personal email. :-)

      • Thank you for the extra info. I did a little hunt on the internet to find out more info about it, and not only does it flutter in the Canaries, Azores and Madeira, apparently it is in Portugal, Southern Spain and my very own Gibraltar, so I shall keep a look out for it.

        I did see a pretty butterfly at the finca at one point, and thought it was a red admiral, which is about the only reddish butterfly I know, perhaps it was a monarch? I will keep my eyes out and look for them both in Gib and in Spain.

        Below is an interesting piece that suggests the British butterflies may not come from the Americas but from the European Monarchs – somewhat nearer to fly eh?
        http://www.britishbutterflies.co.uk/species-info.asp?vernacular=Monarch

        Did you think yours was male or female? I couldn’t tell whether it was reddish in a couple of shots from the light, because in another shot it looked slightly lighter, again could have been the light.

        On the notification thing, when it flashes up orange to notify you of comments/likes, don’t you click on it to see who has said what? I find it by far the easiest way to keep track of who is commenting on my blog or replying to my comments. I couldn’t cope with email notifications!

      • Glad to know that you are interested in butters. Will get to your question later tonight or it might sooner or later but will tell you how to tell the sexes of the Monarches and Queens. The color has nothing to do with how to determine the sex. Some of them are a deeper orange and look orangy brown but that is not a factor. I have not eaten supper yet and I really must eat to keep 108-109 pounds. I am about 10 pounds short of what I should weigh. ~yvonne

  21. Lottie Nevin says:

    Dear Yvonne, this is a truly MAGNIFICENT post. Your photographs are terrific, and the story behind the rise and fall of the Monarch butterfly is both fascinating and educational. Gerard is spot on when he says ‘This is the sort of stuff what the Geographical magazine is famous for’ I absolutely agree with him. I don’t think that I’ve ever seen a Monarch butterfly before, aren’t they beautiful? Their markings and colours are just gorgeous and your pictures really show them off well. WOW, WOW and WOW again. Thank you XXX

    • Dearest Lottie, you are so kind and generous with your words. Thank you for such a lovely compliment. My only wish is that my lens were a better one and then the photos would have been super sharp. But one day… Anyhow when I saw a comment from you I began thinking that, “gee whiz, Lottie is still up.” And then I remembered that you are about 7-8 hours or so ahead of Texas central standard time. Right now the time here is 12:49 am so it is around 8 or 9 am where you are, I think.

      I am so glad that you found the butters pretty and entertaining. I wanted to put more detail about the beauty of the Monarch in my little write up and then decided to leave that out. I might go back and add my observations later. The Monarch up close is really a beauty. ~yvonne xxx

      • Lottie Nevin says:

        Well it really was a stunning post, Yvonne and I know how much you long for a new lens – I understand your frustration in wanting sharper shots. Oh how I wish that I could give you one for Christmas. if I had some spare cash, I’d buy you one like a shot because I know what pleasure it brings to you.

        Yes, it’s almost 8am here though I’ve been up since 5am as Colin Snout wanted to go outside and do his business (despite his creeping downstairs during the night and doing something unmentionable on the kitchen floor ! ) Having said that, he’s really much better in the house than I thought he’d be considering he’s been in a kennels for so long. I’ll send you some more pictures of him later and this weeks update. This will make you laugh…I’ve just noticed white dots coming down all over my laptop screen – my first thought was that something had gone horribly wrong with my computer and then I realised that it’s the WordPress seasonal snowflakes falling!! :) XXX

      • Dear young woman. You are too nice. But one day I will be able to buy a fine lens. I just hope that there are still butterflies and birds to photograph. Neither one of us is cash happy. I call myself a peon. Just spent 735 bucks on Muddy to have the tumor removed from his side. It was not malignant but could have become bad later on. I just wanted to get that sucker of my sweet dog.

        Make sure you feed Colin S.in the am so that he can get his business done during the day. No water after about 6pm until he gets used to holding bowels and bladder.

        Will look forward to more pics of that cute little dog. ~yvonne xxx

      • Lottie Nevin says:

        You are an angel to all of your animals, how selfless and kind that you put them first. I really hope that you get your new lens soon, you so deserve it.
        What a good idea about feeding C.S in the morning, I’ll start doing that from now on. I made the mistake of feeding him leftovers from lunch and dinner yesterday and it clearly wasn’t a good idea!! I’ll send some pics now and and update xxx

      • Lottie, I’m not sure if I really am selfless or not. I just feel guilty if I don’t take care of their medical needs. I could not live with myself if I let something go that will save my animals life. I just save as much as I can in every way that I know how. I have not replaced my dryer and my electric bill for November was only $138. Cheapest its been in many years. I dry laundry outdoors or hang from shower rack or drape over furniture in the den. I bought a used Dearborn heater for $70 and it throws out as much heat as my defunk floor furnace. It will heat the entire house if I open doors to all the rooms.I don’t have a cable TV and in fact haven’t watched TV for well over a year. Don’t go anywher but the library, grocery, and run a few errands. That saves $$$ too. Lots of ways to cut costs if one can settle for a no frills life style.

      • Lottie Nevin says:

        I absolutely agree – a no frills lifestyle is the way to save money! More photos and an email will be on there way to you shortly! :)

      • Lottie I will be eagerly awaiting more photos. Understand that I am not by nature one who is thrifty. Life took some turns that required me to tighten my belt. But I’ve never been one to place much value on fancy things anyhow so I don’t see my life being difficult although my children think I am eccentric because I no longer watch TV, eat out, or drive a nicer vehicle,and the list goes on. :-)

  22. Well, I must say I have never even dreamt of seeing photos like these. Absolutely marvellous. This is the sort of stuff what the Geographical magazine is famous for. Thank you

  23. Just Rod says:

    Now that’s strange. During the time it took me to write my comment 2 of the photos disappeared and just showed a question mark…?

    • Well, I just don’t know about this blog of mine. Bad karma or what? I looked and they are all there except the two that I attempted to delete and the blocks stayed in place with a red x in the upper left hand corner. I gave up on trying to delete the duplicates. Some of them erased totally without any problem. Anyhow I’ll get to your next comment after I give another kidney failure cat sub cu fluids. This is how I blog most of the time. In between taking care of the special needs pets and one of the dogs that is old and a finicky eater. Sometimes I actully spend a couple of uninterrupted hours on the computer. :-)

  24. Just Rod says:

    Wow! Now that was well worth the wait! What a wonderful story of the life cycle of the Monarchs and the pictures are beautiful. Thank you for taking such care to share the photos and information.
    Just a few years ago we had hundreds of Monarchs on our beach in the summer in Canada. This year we only saw a couple all season. I hope it was just a low year.
    This is a magnificent post Yvonne.

    • Thank so much for commenting and the lovely compliment. I had many more pics to choose from but decided I had better stop with those. I tried to find the various poses of the butter. I have hundreds of shots in about 3 folders.

      But back to the apparent plight of the Monarch. It seems that the loss of beloved wildlife is happening at an alarming rate. I hope the three countries where the Monarach lives and or reproduces will soon wake up and take steps to save these priceless creatures before it is too late.

      Your story of hundreds of Monarchs a few years back and now only a piffling few correlates with other individual’s stories across Canada and the US. I have found butterfly forums etc. and people were either saying there were no butterflies or only a few.

      Personally the migrating numbers have been about the same for 2011, 2012 and, 2013. On average I have seen anywhere from 2 to 18 over about a 7-9 day period. I didn’t get my digital camera until December of 2010 so I really was not actively watching butterflies. Also I was still working until May of 2010 and I had neither the time nor the energy to hardly even bird watch in the yard. :-)

  25. Great post Yvonne! Fantastic pictures.

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