Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

One good turn deserves another, lepidopteranly speaking

with 30 comments

Monarch Butterfly on Maximilian Sunflowers 7119

On October 1st, after I left the area where I’d photographed the gulf fritillary, I drove about a mile east to the Meister Lane cul-de-sac in southern Round Rock. This time the butterfly I found on some Maximilian sunflowers, Helianthus maximiliani, was a monarch, Danaus plexippus, evidence that the avant-garde of the fall migration southward into Mexico was entering central Texas. Artistic avant-gardes frequently change styles and palettes, but butterflies are conservative and retain their patterns throughout many generations. I can be a creature of habit too, but I think I’ve broken tradition by showing butterflies here two days in a row (and critters three days in a row).

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 10, 2015 at 5:08 AM

30 Responses

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  1. Lovely clarity and light.

    Lemony (Gr)Egghead

    October 10, 2015 at 6:05 AM

    • I sometimes joke that the clarity in certain of my photographs comes from my having taught math for many years.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 10, 2015 at 7:42 AM

  2. Your photo surprised me with two things I’ve never noticed about a Monarch: the way the white-on-black spots along its wing edges match those on its body, and the fringed effect on one end of the orange patches on its wings. The patches remind me of the fringed gentian, or similar flowers. The detail’s wonderful.


    October 10, 2015 at 7:33 AM

    • My guess is that people see the colorful orange wings first, and then the black and white bands around those wings; the white-in-black spots take third place or may not even register. I don’t believe I’d thought much about the fringed effect at the rear of the orange cells, so I’m glad you pointed it out.

      As for the fringed gentian, I’ve never seen one for real, only in Steve Gingold’s photographs.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 10, 2015 at 7:50 AM

  3. Another beautiful butterfly 😀 Happy days Steve!

    • I was fortunate to get photographs of two picturesque butterflies on the same outing (and coincidentally on two occurrences of the same species of wildflower).

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 10, 2015 at 9:33 AM

      • There are some wildflowers that are butterfly magnets! Around the world we need to do more to protect wildflowers and create linked wildlife habitats. It’s so lovely to see a number of species on one outing 🙂 I guess most of the monarchs are heading south now!

        • Yes. At this time of year the monarchs head for their gathering place in the mountains of Mexico.

          Steve Schwartzman

          October 10, 2015 at 9:47 AM

  4. You have some extremely pretty butterflies 🙂


    October 10, 2015 at 10:05 AM

  5. Sharing something beautiful, taking time to share something special makes such a loud statement.

    Charlie@Seattle Trekker

    October 10, 2015 at 12:34 PM

  6. Thanks for the joy–your sighting of a monarch. I saw two this summer, which was a huge disappointment. I keep planting butterfly weed throughout my gardens. Unfortunately, swaths of this important native has been eliminated across our country by those who see it as a “weed” or invasive. It happens to be a critical plant for the monarch’s survival (as you probably know).


    October 10, 2015 at 3:17 PM

    • Fortunately in central Texas we have various species of milkweed, which, aside from their importance to monarchs, I find to be no weeds at all, but perpetually excellent subjects for photography. Next week I’m planning to show a picture of a milkweed species that hasn’t appeared in any of my previous posts; stay tuned.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 10, 2015 at 6:13 PM

  7. Thank you for sharing another beautiful butterfly shot. Critters are pretty special. I love the idea of little worlds within worlds. That’s partly why I enjoy macroshots so much. As for you breaking tradition, Steve, perhaps you are “mildly extreme” also. I like tradition too but sometimes it’s fun to break it. 🙂


    October 11, 2015 at 2:43 AM

    • Ah yes, there are worlds within worlds, and worlds within those inner worlds too, but by then it would take a microscope to see them. A macro lens works well for the first degree of interior world, and I content myself with the rewards it reveals.

      When it comes to tradition, I sometimes take a break from it, but then I eventually take a break from taking a break from tradition. What fun…, and as a you say, perhaps mildly extreme.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 11, 2015 at 7:13 AM

  8. Nice. Seems everyone I know saw monarchs this year except me.

    Steve Gingold

    October 11, 2015 at 5:15 AM

    • Then you are the only one who hasn’t been the head of a kingdom this year. At least not this kingdom: you’ve been at the head of many another.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 11, 2015 at 7:15 AM

  9. Re: critters and butterflies 3 days and counting: Calls to mind the suggestion that If you’re breathing oxygen, thank a plant – and if you’re a plant, thank a pollinator or seed dispersing critter for keeping the web of life woven together. It’s all about the birds and the bees and the flowers and the trees, as some singer whose name I forget once sang.
    (I’ve seen a very few Monarchs this year, including one during the summer – either a late or early migrator North or South – I suspect he didn’t know whether he was coming or going.)


    October 11, 2015 at 9:08 AM

    • Yes, things in nature are interdependent, so that a change in one component of the system can affect another component, sometimes in a way that people hadn’t expected.

      According to the Wikipedia article about the song you referred to:

      “The Birds and the Bees” is said to have been written by the twelve-year-old son of Era Records’ owner Herb Newman: the songwriting credit on the Jewel Akens’ recording of “The Birds and the Bees” reads Barry Stuart, which is the song’s standard songwriting credit although some subsequent recordings (i.e. by artists other than Akens) identify the composer as Herb Newman himself (Newman had written “The Wayward Wind” a 1956 #1 hit for Gogi Grant).

      As for your monarch not knowing if it was coming or going, I suspect we all feel that way at times.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 11, 2015 at 9:40 AM

  10. Love this picture. How do you feel about someone using one of your pictures as a Facebook cover shot?
    Don’t want to do it without your permission, but it’s just sooooo lovely.


    October 11, 2015 at 10:01 AM

  11. A truly beautiful photo of this stunning butterfly!

    Birder's Journey

    October 11, 2015 at 3:31 PM

  12. How could I possibly not be attracted to an image that (a) is of crisply delineated, joyful butterfly beauty and (b) demands the use of the word “lepidopteranly”? I would probably have gone with Lepidopteraciously, or maybe Lepidopteraniciously, but you know it’s only because I’m addicted to polysyllabic babbling. Cool photo!


    October 18, 2015 at 9:36 PM

    • As one polysyllabalist to another, I like your extended versions of lepidopteranly. Can we expect to see one of them flutter by in a post of yours sometime soon?

      (What do you call the weapon with which one lover of long words attacks another? — A polysyllaballistic missile [or missive].)

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 18, 2015 at 10:45 PM

      • Or Missal, if one’s attacker is a clergyman. An ecclesiastical version of having someone ‘throw the book at’ me, I suppose.

        And yes, it’s possible you have infected me with the desire to send out another polysyllabically massive missive. Take cover!!!


        October 19, 2015 at 1:36 PM

        • Thanks for your emendation. I wish I could’ve said I didn’t miss all the possibilities, but I obviously left one out. At least a failure to think of it wasn’t a Missal dismissal.

          Steve Schwartzman

          October 19, 2015 at 2:12 PM

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