Thursday, August 20, 2009

Blooming Friday Monarchs, Mimicry, Lacy Queens and Hydrangeas

Flower Hill is nearly deflowered this blooming friday... unless you look to the wild and in my studio, where I am putting together wedding flowers for this weekend. Joe Pye weed, a cluster of lilies, a few rose blooms, Hostas and Sedums just beginning and Hydrangeas still lacy... along with Queen Anne's Lace... all attracting bees and butterflies are blooming and bearing the hazy heat. The Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are still darting about in the Himalayan Balsam and inquisitive as ever. There are several last blooms of Buddleia enticing and feeding butterflies and here you see the Monarch of butterflies... there is no other flutterby that moves and navigates as this King and Queen of the air waves. It has been a dismal year here for the Monarchs, mostly I believe due to the rainy wet spring and early summer... I have eyed the lovely mimic Viceroy a few times and then again yesterday, when I also saw my second Monarch butterfly of the summer. The tear to the Viceroy's fabric of wing reveals that mimicry is not always safe... and I have seen many a Monarch with torn wings as well. Birds have learned to eat only certain parts of the abdomen, and to spit out the part that holds the toxic chemical ingested by the caterpillars from their host plant milkweed. It is easy to see the differences in these two butterflies. I have inserted a photo, of a male (the tiny sacs on both wings indicates the sex) Monarch with wings fully open, from last year to help illustrate this point. Along the open wings of the Viceroy, it is as if a thick black spun thread is woven through the mosaic pattern, whereas there is no such thread going through the Monarchs wings. There are many other variations including; the head, thorax and abdomen, the large black brush strokes along the base of the upper wings, the shape of the wings, the milky white spotting and wing coloration when folded... truly they are totally different creatures with similar markings and colors. Though the Viceroy is but a imitation of the Monarch for supposed protection, both butterflies are equally vulnerable, bold and radiant when lit by the sun, in their stained glass orange luminous gowns. The photo from last year shows a fresh Monarch bathed in full sun on ageratum... not quite fair to the Viceroy shown more in shade. To paint both would surely show you all the minute details unique to each. My photos from yesterday show a Monarch feasting on Buddleia, while the Viceroy is sipping Queen Anne's Lace. I am featuring Hydrangeas this Blooming Friday... to see more blooms from around the world go to Katarina's Roses and Stuff.
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