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280 days of Urbpandemonium #181

 photo IMGP2467_zpsz2llxvg6.jpg
One of North America's largest and most beautiful butterflies might be on the ropes. The monarch butterfly Danaus plexippus* has two big challenges: it migrates halfway across the continent, and it relies on an agricultural pest plant to survive. Deforestation of its southern wintering spot and industrial control of its host plant are converging to make life tough for an insect recognized as state insect or state butterfly for seven US states.

This individual and several like it that I saw in the Missouri Botanical Garden was among the very few I've seen this year. Citizen science is catching up with anecdotal evidence to prove that the population of monarch butterflies is plummeting. We should all plant milkweed in our yards, and hope that the orange giant is with us for years to come.

*Danaüs = Greek myth a king of Argos who told his fifty daughters, the Danaides, to kill their bridegrooms on their wedding night
Plexippus = In Greek mythology, Plexippus or Plexippos (Πλήξιππος) is a name that refers to:
A son of Thestius, who, together with his brother Toxeus, participated in the hunt for the Calydonian Boar. He was angry that the prize of the boar's hide had been given to a woman (Atalanta) by his nephew Meleager, who then killed him in the ensuing argument.
A son of Phineus and Cleopatra, brother of Pandion. He and his brother were blinded by Phineus at the instigation of their stepmother Idaea.
One of the sons of Aegyptus. He married (and was killed by) Amphicomone, daughter of Danaus.
A son of the Arcadian king Choricus, brother of Enetus and Palaestra.


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 10th, 2015 12:35 pm (UTC)
Haven't seen one around here in years
I've been looking in every milkweed patch I can find (which are few and far-between these days) and I haven't seen a butterfly, caterpillar, or egg in at least two years, maybe three. I did see one in Minnesota over the summer. Goodbye monarch butterflies.
Oct. 12th, 2015 12:14 am (UTC)

I thought that milkweeds up north here bloomed too late to be of use for birds' nesting material but were still useful for the monarchs.

My question is about honeypods which are related to milkweeds.
The honeypods which were in Ohio and lately in western Pennsylvania are advancing east. I recently found a plant in eastern New York [icon].

I know host plants and organisms have specific relationships. I suppose then that the monarchs would not accept honeypods as a viable substitute?

Honeypods may be "more attractive" to folks who might consider milkweed to be a pest. The honeypod pod itself is slender and more golden. They slit to let the seeds out. By coloration and its presence not being quite as known yet perhaps...

Monarchs are beautiful. I would hate for them to become a memory, something to point to in a science textbook years from now "we used to have those here..."
Oct. 12th, 2015 10:08 am (UTC)
I don't know the species of plant you are referring to. There is at least one introduced milkweed (black swallowwort) which monarchs lay eggs on but their caterpillars can't feed on. But there are a number of milkweed species that are good host plants, beyond the common milkweed.
Oct. 14th, 2015 05:21 am (UTC)

I've forgotten how to insert photo in comments. It is at this entry of mine: http://froganon.livejournal.com/324784.html , fourth collage down first picture.

Or [if you wish to look it up] it is properly called the honeyvine milkweed or Ampelamus albidus.

I keep calling it the honeypod milkweed [stupid mild expressive aphasia], another good argument for being able to refer to the latin names.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )


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