Friday, October 03, 2008

Alas, Not Your Typical Monarch ...

I'll admit right up front here that this is not the kind of post I'd rather be writing about one of our Fall Monarch Denizens here in the garden at Casa IVG. Fernymoss discovered this unfortunate Monarch last weekend when he was out with the camera, taking shots of the pumpkins in the back garden. As most of you probably know, we virtually worship and put out all the welcome flowers we can to attract butterflies to our garden, so this was a very disconcerting find for both of us ... after watching a Monarch chrysalis develop over the past several weeks (and eventual departure of said Monarch), we could only wonder if this poor fellow might be the one we watched develop. Of course, there's no sure way of knowing, but that makes little difference given the obvious handicaps this unfortunate butterfly possesses. In this shot you can see that his fourth wing never developed properly, which probably explains why he was found resting in the grass, rather than higher up. In addition, he only has four legs, which is not immediately apparent in this shot.
At this point, Fernymoss had moved him up to one of the Zinnias in the back garden, not only to provide him with a bit of food, but also to get a better look at just how deformed that third wing really is ... it's quite sad, we thought, that this poor fellow is already likely behind his flock in migrating, and appears to have little chance of being able to perform the migration that he's hard wired to accomplish. Of course, in the greater scheme of Nature, I'm sure this sort of thing happens more often than we'd like to admit, but when one is made a personal witness to Nature in action, it's not always a pretty sight. I guess the whole thing that bothers me the most is that our populations of Monarchs are more and more endangered, from pesticides to genetically altered crops, to who knows what Frankensteinian perversions the Agribusiness industry has perpetrated on our once reliable insect populations. True, I could be exaggerating the import of finding this unfortunate Monarch in our garden, but with all the changes in climate we've experienced in the mere 10 years we've lived here, it's hard not to wonder about some of the causes of the odder occurrences we've seen in that time. If you've still not seen An Inconvenient Truth, this might be a good time to see what we're up against in the years to come....
Alas, this final shot clearly shows what our poor friend is up against ... a deformed third wing and lack of the requisite six legs... although he had a limited ability to fly, he did make a heroic effort to move from this flower eventually ... as to where he went and his subsequent fate, we know nothing. But the odds didn't look very good for him achieving his purpose ... again, the dispassionate voice in me says that this is Nature in action, but in this particular case, it's really hard not to take this one personally. We do our best to provide a good environment for the bees and butterflies, and when we see something like this (a first this year!), it does have a way of putting a damper on our garden ideals. I guess the long and the short of it is that I'd rather be reporting more positive news from the Fall garden here ...Take this post as you will ... diatribe or documentary ... I'm still not sure where I weigh in on that, but as I said at the outset, this is not the type of post I'd like to be writing abut our Fall butterfly denizens.

I prefer the happier, more productive times of mid-summer, obviously. I'm still struggling here to accept the definitive arrival of Fall. Yep, that's a big river, denial....


Shady Gardener said...

He's a beautiful Monarch, despite his wing's condition. I know that if anything should bump or bother the chrysalis, deformities happen. We once hatched a Monarch at school that had only 4 legs, but he was fine otherwise and was able to fly away.

But things like that happen in this life. I think it's how we respond that matters. Thank you for being so kind.
:-) Shady G.

boran2 said...

Given the extent of this particular buuterfly's disabilities/deformities, it would seem to be more than just an act of nature. Your concern about manmade causes may be justified. Still, he is beautiful.

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hi Shady,
Thanks, as always, for the informed comment about what could have been the cause. I know we didn't personally touch the chrysalis, but there were some pretty windy and dramatic rains while it was developing so perhaps that had an effect.

I can't be any other way than kind when it comes to our insect pals (bees, butterflies, mantises, etc.) but not so much when the subject happens to be squirrels. They bring out the ruthless side of me. :-)

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hey B2,
He is a real beauty, that's for sure! That's why this was a particularly sad post for me to write. It sounds like from what Shady said that it could have been natural, but no matter what reason, it still stings a bit.

Gail said...


Incredible shots of a magnificent butterfly...the deformities seem tremendous....I imagine that Shady is correct.

Let's hope things get better in our world and theirs.


olivia said...


That is sad ... and if was just the legs, then maybe he'd be okay.

Agree w/ Gail. Those are really wonderful photos, and it is a beautiful butterfly regardless of its injury.

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hi Gail,
Yes, I think Shady probably had it right too ... but even in his deformity, he is truly beautiful and was making a courageous effort to carry on as planned.

Agreed on the second point, let's indeed HOPE furiously for improvement!

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hey Olivia!
Yeah, we figured the wing was the worst blow, because walking on 4 legs doesn't seem so daunting. Still, this was a sad one for us to chronicle!

I'll thank Fernymoss for you ... how about that S700 eh? eh?? :-)

Janet said...

Your words again remind me why I'm such an admirer of yours.

Thank you!

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hi Janet!
You're too kind! You know I'm just an old softie at heart where Nature is concerned ... people not so much, but there are some good ones of those too. :-) (Count yourself in that crowd, hon!)

Anonymous said...

Beautiful Butterfly

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