Portraits of a Monarch Just Stopping By

May 25, 2020

Welcome, Danaus plexippus

A monarch butterfly, the first of the year, fluttered through our family pollinator garden in Vacaville, Calif. last Sunday and hung around for about two hours. We clocked him in at 5 p.m. and he exited around 7.  He was on the move!

"Boy Butterfly" visited:

  • the tower of jewels (Echium wildpretii)
  • a yellow rose ("Sparkle and Shine," related to the Julia Child rose, a purchase from the California Center for Urban Horticulture, UC Davis, during its 2013 Rose Day 
  • a honeysuckle (genus Lonicera)
  • a tropical milkweed (Asclepias curassavica) (it ignored the native "showy milkweed," Asclepias speciosa 
  • a butterfly bush (Buddleia davidii)
  • a mallow (Althaea officinalis)
  • a blooming succulent, hens-and-chicks (genus Echeveria): when it's blooming, it's referred to as a "rooster" 

Then Boy Butterfly touched down on the ear of a cat (garden sculpture) while a mama California scrub jay watched closely. We could hear the baby birds chirping "We're hungry! We're hungry! Let's eat!"

Fortunately for the monarch, Mama's menu changed. She settled on some honey bees nectaring on the catmint (genus Nepeta), and left my Boy Butterfly alone.

A male European wool carder bee  (Anthidium manicatum) chased him. A Gulf Fritillary followed him. And a bumble bee (Bombus vosnesenskii) almost collided with him.

And then this persistent photographer, armed with a 200mm macro lens, stealthily approached him...