Monday, February 2, 2015

Monarch Flutterbys

The Monarch Butterfly (Danaus plexippus)
Monarch Butterflies are known to winter in California, but imagine our surprise upon leaving church services yesterday, to find a couple right outside the door!

This little sweetheart butterfly was enjoying the flowers outside the Relief Society room, and my friend Deonne just happened to have her camera with her.

Monarchs are easy to spot because of their orange and black markings and white spots.  In fact, by the markings, I can tell this is a female - which only makes sense, as she was found trying to attend Relief Society!

Wikipedia notes that the western North America population of monarchs who live west of the Rocky Mountains, most often migrate to sites in California for the winter.  Some of them also winter in Mexico.  They obviously have good taste in vacation spots.

Monarchs have also taken a ride into space to the international space station!

When I was growing up, Monarchs were my favorite butterflies.  It was so much fun to see this one enjoying our balmy weather.

A little bee tags behind his lady friend, Miss Monarch
Monarchs are currently in danger due to both genetically modified maize which is killing larvae and widespread herbicide use which is destroying their habitat.  Because of this, a petition has been filed with the US Department of the Interior to have the Monarch declared an endangered species.

Conservationists are also trying to encourage milkweed (an important plant for Butterflies) growth along roadways and power lines.  Reducing roadside mowing and application of herbicides during the butterfly breeding season will encourage milkweed growth.  They are further urging agricultural companies to set aside areas that remain unsprayed to allow butterflies of all kinds to breed.

I'm glad the State of California has instituted various conservation programs, policies, laws, reserves and habitat restoration projects throughout the state to facilitate the health and migration of these beautiful insects.

So, think twice before you spray your garden with chemicals!  Butterflies are worth saving for future generations!

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