My Daily Photo Walk: In Search of a Monarch
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13 - Monarch 1Feeding pair 13 - Monarch 2Milkweed leaf and pods People often ask me where I get my inspiration for my daily walks. Some days, like today, I find it in the newspaper.
This morning there was a great article in the Frederick News Post about monarch butterflies. A group named the Monarch Alliance is working to enhance a natural area at the Antietam battlefield in order to attract monarchs, which are dwindling in number. I am not going to repeat all of the facts of the story, because you can read it here. It has great information about the butterflies and the project.
Monarch caterpillars eat only milkweed leaves. Milkweed is fast disappearing due to farming, herbicide use, and development. It grows well in fields and along country road sides. After feeding, the caterpillar leaves the leaf and finds a safe place to turn into a chrysalis, where it will hang upside down until the butterfly is ready to emerge. From caterpillar to butterfly is about 9-14 days. You can read more about the life cycle of the monarch here. 13 - Monarch 6
13 - Monarch 3Grasses, goldenrod, and rosinweed 13 - Monarch 4Purple Thistle I did not make the trip to Antietam, because I knew that the Fred Archibald Audubon Sanctuary near me on Boyer's Mill Road has plenty of milkweed and natural areas. And if milkweed means monarchs, then I was hopeful to find some today.
The sanctuary has large fields of tall, natural grasses with mown paths between. In addition to the tall grasses, there was lots of goldenrod. After emerging as butterflies, the monarchs need to feed on nectar rich flowers to prepare for their trip to Mexico, and there was no shortage of flowers here. I also found purple thistle still in bloom, as well as spikes of flowers that looked like mini-sunflowers. I think they are whorled rosinweed.
13 - Monarch 5 13 - Monarch 7 Less than five minutes into my walk I encountered 6 butterflies. They were flitting around on the goldenrod, busy feeding. I could not get too near but the zoom on my little camera did a great job. Altogether in my walk around the sanctuary, I probably counted a dozen. I'm sure there were many more deep in the interiors of the grassy areas.
Happy feeding, butterflies. Safe travels to Mexico!
All photos in “My Daily Photo Walk" are for sale upon request.
Growing up I can remember playing in fields and finding milkweed. It taken 50 years to larn that weeds have purpose and are not just another annoyance. Who doesn't love a butterfly?
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