07 October 2013
Let me know which you prefer and why.
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I feel the pressure—the urgency. With my weighty time in nature I barely saw a monarch butterfly here or there during my summer outings. And in August and September there was not a caterpillar in sight on my butterfly milkweed–the plant that is most important to sustain their future.
Truly, it’s more than worrisome. Reports continue about the monarchs free fall, and their misfortune is only one among countless others.
Nature works hard and tirelessly to create and develop symbiotic relationships. One of those is the partnership between the Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) and the Butterfly Milkweed.
Fortunately, this perennial is native to Delaware: we have two varieties, Butterfly Milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa) and Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata). For this post I will focus on the former.
Asclepias tuberosa’s heavily clustered, orangey-flowered plant acts as host to this butterfly’s life cycle. So I dedicate this post to the seeds and silks that carry the plant’s survival kit.
In the Lens section is an image of the silk that acts as parachutes to carry the seed to unknown destinations. The second image shows a seed that measures approximately 1/8″ long and seems flat to the naked eye, but the macro tells us a different story.
Every year I add these perky plants to my gardens, experimenting with exposures and location. Finally, I have two divergent sites (east and south) that are producing both greenery and flowers.
During this gardening season seedpods were numerous, and the silky threads have been landing with their usual quietude. Suddenly, I find them tied around some unsuspecting neighboring plants or distant areas. They encourage my hopes that the more produced, the more chances for the monarch to continue its longevity.
Here are two images that I took in 2011 with my Nikon DSLR: 1. Seedpod, silk and seeds and 2. Monarch butterfly devouring a green seedpod:
While the decline of monarchs is very much connected to human intervention (loss of prime habitats as well as ramifications of climate change), I’ve also read that there is a tendency for some people to view the milkweed plant as a weed: meaning that they work to eliminate it.
In my part of the universe we revere this native. So I’m hoping to spread the word: plant and maybe they will come.
Advocacy is running high, and I hope that the monarch will recover and continue its important role on our planet. Here is a video that explains the issues. Please watch “The Plight of the Monarch.” It’s worth the time: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zwb50jDl6r0/
Tip of the Week: While my snail mail has been reduced to a minimum, the monthly arrival of National Geographic Magazine is a glorious visual gift. This publication can be read online (http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com), but I prefer a slow read on my screened-in porch where nature floods inside with songbirds’ melodies and sunlight’s gaze. The October issue astounds: the “125th Anniversary Collector’s Edition, The Photo Issue.” Since 1888 viewers have been privy to the glory of our planet through the organization’s efforts. The photograph has been integral to the NG’s ability to celebrate humanity and nature–the interwoven story. I encourage you to get a copy, which can be bought in bookstores (if you can find one) and newsstands (if you can find one). Or subscribe online or by snail mail.
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Note: As always I welcome any comment about this post or any part of my blog.
Here’s a reminder of the monthly schedule with themes for upcoming Phoneography Challenges:
1st Monday: Nature
2nd Monday: Macro
3rd Monday: Black-and-White
4th and 5th Mondays: Challenger’s Choice (Pick One: Abstraction, Architecture, Food Photography, Night Photography, Portraiture, Still Life, Street Photography, and Travel).