Monarch of the Road


I’ve had an inordinately large number of close encounters with monarch butterflies this summer. This has been in upstate New York, not New York City (not really butterfly territory.)

Sometimes they are just fluttering around in beautifully typical tipsy fashion, but frequently, I’ve happened upon them (sometimes one, sometimes three or four) in an absolutely stationary pose–on the ground, or road, in the corner of a porch, even on a flower. My mind generally jumps to worst case scenarios–that they are dead, injured, sick, and that it is some irreversible effect of global warming.

Then, later, they will sometimes slowly flit away, and I’ll wonder whether they were just resting after all, and whether this is just some facet of butterfly behavior I’ve never paid much attention to before.

I’m not sure if this will happen in the case of the very determined fellow below, whose wing looks genuinely injured. Shortly after making this video, I saw one fluttering down the road, and I ran back to the place I’d last filmed this guy, hoping not to find him. Alas, he was still there, clinging to the tall grass.

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5 Comments on “Monarch of the Road”

  1. Mark Potter Says:

    I love the little critters. So true about how they settle on roadways.

    However your picture is not of a Monarch. It’s one of the Swallowtails, family Papilionidae which has over 500 species, whereas the Monarch, Danaus plexippus, has just a handfull, and is of the family Nymphalidae.

    Taxonomically it’s like confusing a bear with a buffalo. Both mammals yes. I thought you’d like to know.

    Someone once told me why they settle on roads . . . I’ll have to see if I can remember.

    • manicddaily Says:

      Thank you, Mark! I did not think of this and just liked the idea of King of the Road. I uploaded this on iPad and it’s been so frustrating as it seemed not to load not to load, etc. so I kept editing it, and still it wouldn’t load, and then I finally checked on real computer. Agh. I am as bad on computer issues as I am with taxonomy. Thanks much.

    • manicddaily Says:

      Mark! You should check out Meredith’s blog from the Peruvian Amazon. Now, she knows about taxonomy! (Of plants anyway.) It’s very interesting.

  2. Mark Potter Says:

    Swallowtails are Kings of the Road definitely. I hate to think of how many I’ve crushed accidentally. Luckily the Swallowtails are more numerous.

    It’s the Monarchs that have gotten scarce due to the decline of milkweed. The Catskills would have had lots years ago. Find an old abandoned farmer’s field and you may find a monarch or two. You would have to call the Monarchs Kings of the Sea since they are amongst the few insects that can cross the Atlantic.

  3. Mark Potter Says:

    Lovin’g Meridith’s blog!

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