Posts Tagged: Danaus plexippus
Just call it "The Battle Over the Tithonia."
A female monarch butterfly--gender identified by butterfly expert Art Shapiro, professor of evolution and ecology at the University of California, Davis and Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology--fluttered into our bee garden early this morning and dropped down on a Mexican sunflower (Tithonia).
Her landing was perfect. The monarch (Danaus plexippus), a species that Sharpio rightfully says "requires no description"--claimed her flower as several male long-horned sunflower bees, Melissodes agilis, began targeting her.
Talk about a friendly "welcoming party." Not!
Those Melissodes agilis aren't called "agile" Melissodes agilis for nothing.
The monarch zipped over to another Tithonia, only to be trailed by the Melissodes dive bombers.
After foraging on her third flower and failing to evade the tactical squad, the monarch apparently figured it just wasn't worth her efforts.
Off she went, escorted out of the bee garden by the bomb squad.
A male sunflower bee, Melissodes agilis, targets a monarch. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Watch your backside! (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Head to head: a monarch and a Melissodes square off. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
It's good to see so many scientists and citizen scientists taking an avid interest in monarchs.
The monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus), probably the most recognizable of all the butterflies, is known for its long migratory route from Canada to Mexico.
We spotted a beautiful monarch last Sunday afternoon in Fair Oaks, Calif. as it foraged for nectar from an appropriately named "butterfly bush" (Buddleia davidii).
We watched the monarch glide, drop down, and nectar on the blossoms--a beautiful sight to see. The larval host plant is the milkweed, also a beautiful sight to see--especially when the caterpillars "decorate" the leaves. From an egg to a caterpillar to a chrysalid to an adult, the life cycle should be one of the seven wonders of the world.
Meanwhile, there's a major monarch event taking place Friday, June 6 at the Chicago Botanic Gardens. It's an all-day symposium about monarchs and their conservation, "Make Way for Monarchs: Alliance for Milkweed and Butterfly Recovery." Speakers include Lincoln Brower, Karen Oberhauser, Chip Taylor, Gary Nabhan, and Scott Hoffman Black. An organization called makewayformonarchs.org conducts "research on monarch butterfly recovery and promote positive, science-based actions to avert food web collapse in the milkweed community and the further demise of the monarch migration to Mexico," according to the Chicago Botanic Garden website promoting the Friday event. "They aim to promote social engagement to implement tangible solutions in midwestern landscapes through collaborative conservation."
There's also a MonarchWatch organization dedicated to restoring the Monarch butterfly populations.
More closer to home, Oakland parks supervisor Tora Rocha of the Pollinator Posse is spearheading a drive to rear monarchs. She posts many photos of the caterpillars and adults on the Pollinator Posse Facebook page. Check out the YouTube video featuring her, the monarchs and the Pollinator Posse.
"It's addicting," she says.
Want to help? Listen to the YouTube video and accept her invitation "to come join us."
A monarch butterfly on a butterfly bush. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Monarch butterfly finds just the right blossom. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
At times, the monarch resembles a strained glass window. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
The mighty Monarch butterfly and the industrious honey bee.
How rare we see them together on the same flower.
But that was the case last Friday at the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, a half-acre bee friendly garden planted next to the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility at the University of California, Davis.
The butterfly touched down on a brilliant orange Mexican sunflower (Tithonia) and began nectaring. A honey bee crawled up the petals. So there they were, sharing nectar. They saw one another. They acknowledged one another. And they ignored one another.
Finally, the bee buzzed off to forage on her very own Mexican sunflower.
It was a butterfly-bee moment. Or more technically, a Danaus plexippus/Apis mellifera moment.
Two may be company, but sometimes it's best to get your own flower.
Monarch butterfly watches as a honey bee crawls up a Mexican sunflower. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Bottoms up! A honey bee makes herself at home. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Two's company--a Monarch butterfly and a honey bee share nectar from the same flower. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)