Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Queen butterfly on Gregg’s mistflower

with 55 comments

On August 20th we drove 60 miles north to the town of Lampasas. In the Hanna Springs Sculpture Garden there we couldn’t help noticing that a bunch of Gregg’s mistflowers (Conoclinium greggii) had attracted a slew of insects, especially queen butterflies (Danaus gilippus). I got to photograph this one while it was “underlit.”

The orange flowers at the far right are Texas lantana (Lantana urticoides). They were as plentiful as the mistflowers but the butterflies ignored the lantana and couldn’t seem to get enough of the mistflowers. For a better view of those lepidopteran-magnet flowers, you’re welcome to look back at a butterfly post from 2017.

◊         ◊

People have always known that there are two biological sexes: male and female. 20th-century geneticists discovered the mechanism that sustains the male-female distinction: DNA. I follow the science. A self-described “Blewish feminist mermaid”—and that tells you a lot right there—has delusionally rejected the science.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 30, 2021 at 4:39 AM

55 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Butterflies are one of my favo insects next to dragonflies.


    August 30, 2021 at 4:43 AM

  2. We’re both on a butterfly thing. I’ve never seen a Queen relative of the Monarch. Looks like diamonds are a Queen’s best friend.

    Steve Gingold

    August 30, 2021 at 5:34 AM

  3. Every time I’ve encountered this butterfly, it’s been nectaring on or fluttering around Gregg’s mistflower (the hill country) or blue mistflower (my area). Even though you’ve shown this one backlit, the details on the wings and body show up nicely. I don’t remember seeing those horizontal stripes on the body in the past.


    August 30, 2021 at 5:58 AM

    • Your observations confirm how much queen butterflies are attracted to mistflowers. We have one mistflower-type plant at our curb, Eupatorium serotinum, but so far I haven’t noticed a single butterfly of any kind on its flowers. Your comment about horizontal stripes made me realize I hadn’t truly noticed them.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 30, 2021 at 6:39 AM

  4. That’s so beautiful


    August 30, 2021 at 6:15 AM

  5. This is a very regal portrait.


    August 30, 2021 at 6:44 AM

    • Right you are—speaking truthfully as well as etymologically, because right and regal both trace back to the same Indo-European root.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 30, 2021 at 6:49 AM

  6. A beauty! And I love the effect of the light.

    Ann Mackay

    August 30, 2021 at 6:47 AM

  7. I echo Beth, this is a beauty and a stunning shot. We haven’t seen many butterflies this year.


    August 30, 2021 at 6:47 AM

    • With so many queen butterflies in that little area, the odds were in my favor for coming away with at least one good picture. Do you have an explanation for why you haven’t seen many butterflies this year?

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 30, 2021 at 7:48 AM

  8. Your photo theme with a focus on butterflies appears to be well synchronized with the post I have viewed at the other Steve’s blog this morning. A case of telepathy perhaps?

    Peter Klopp

    August 30, 2021 at 10:25 AM

    • Every once in a while we happen to post pictures of the same subject. It’s not coordinated. Don’t know about telepathy….

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 30, 2021 at 11:43 AM

  9. The Queen’s portrait is stunning, especially with the backlighting. I’ve got a patch of Gregg’s mistflowers in my backyard, and it seems the last Monarch I saw was August 15th. The Queens would fly at the monarch and drive it away whenever it tried to land on a mistflower. I’ve never seen that behavior before.
    Regarding sexes, there is such a thing as a hermaphrodite, in which there is an extra X or Y chromosome.
    I met one person who had been identified as female at birth, but when he reached puberty, it became obvious he he was a male, (with the extra X chromosome) He had difficulty adjusting to it and landed in the psychiatric ward in which I was working at the time. Nice kid, though he had some identity issues.

    A couple of references by people who are more competent on the subject than I am: https://www.nature.com/articles/gim200711 “We used to call them hermaphrodites” from 2007 in Nature journal, and
    from 2011, “True hermaphrodite: a case study.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3418019/
    For all practical purposes, though, I would agree that there are only two sexes: female and male.


    August 30, 2021 at 10:43 AM

    • Interesting what you say about the queen butterflies driving away the monarchs. I’m under the impression that even within the same species one individual may drive away another.

      I’d thought about mentioning the rare cases of an extra X-chromosome and of hermaphroditism. Mistakes do happen in physical reality but, as you conclude at the end, mistakes don’t cause us to eliminate existing biological categories. We say human beings have two arms, and we don’t throw that out just because once in a rare while someone is born without arms.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 30, 2021 at 11:53 AM

      • Yesterday I saw two (2) Monarchs in the backyard, and took a lot of disposable photos trying to capture them as they danced around in the air. Occasionally they would land on the Gregg’s mistflowers. but the Queens appeared to be busy doing similar activities, so it was just a matter of “Don’t Bogart that Mistflower.” So I’m happy. No pitchforks.
        You call them mistakes, i might call them variations, or mutations, or a recessive gene – like the Firewheels (Gaillardia pulchella) that have no red pigmentation.
        So yeah, you can say hat basically there are two sexes, but there are many personality types, just as the basic components of (real) ice cream are milk, cream, and sugar, there are many different flavors one can add. Such preferences are individual choices. I like chocolate or vanilla, usually. So usually I would agree that there are two sexes, male and female. I have occasionally referred to males as “persons with one defective X chromosome.” Usually women laugh, men, not so much.


        September 2, 2021 at 10:46 AM

        • Better disposable photos than disposable cameras (remember them?). I haven’t seen any monarch butterflies this year, much less any mixed in with queen butterflies, as you described.

          I’m still sticking to my choice of the word “mistake.” It doesn’t seem right to me to call a person born without arms “a variation.”

          Steve Schwartzman

          September 2, 2021 at 10:59 AM

          • I knew a guy whose daughter was born with a thumb and two fingers – in response to which I sent him information about Django Reinhardt, the Belgian musician who lost two fingers in a fire and played with just fingers on his left hand.
            And my family seems to have a trait in which our pinky toes are sliding under the next two – a variation that has no advantage or disadvantage. I wouldn’t call that a mistake – perhaps it’s a next stage in evolution where humans will have no toes, since we don’t use them for picking up things very often. Darwin’s Theory of Natural Selection indicates that variations that provide an advantage for survival are passed on to the next generation. (Assuming I am understanding it correctly, though simplistically).Obviously a person with no arms would be at a disadvantage for survival and to pass on DNA to a new generation. Mistake, mutation, or variation – it all comes down to whether it enhances one’s ability to survive and pass on genes- or ideas and ideals – to the future.


            September 3, 2021 at 11:03 AM

            • It’s impressive what people with disabilities have sometimes been able to accomplish in spite of their handicaps.

              Steve Schwartzman

              September 3, 2021 at 2:54 PM

    • Thanks for these extra references, Robert Kamper. The last line in the Nature article ends with ” to foster what has been needed the most in this field: dialogue.” It is dialogue which is missing in the exchange between Hooven and Lewis. Hooven gives a soundbite on Fox news. Lewis gives a tweet and ignites the Twitterverse.The end result is everyone gets annoyed to no avail. I find this article https://www.thecrimson.com/article/2021/8/11/biology-lecturer-gender-comments-backlash/ does a good job of putting the soundbite and the tweet into perspective. I think most people agree that there are 2 biological sexes but there is scientific divergence on who is male and who is female. Science continues to investigate this issue and the outcomes of current scientific research have real life impacts for many people; consider the cases of DSD athletes at the recent Olympics and the case of former Olympic medallist, Caster Semenya. Consider, too, the difficult decisions which sometimes have to be made when an intersex baby is born; often a team of specialists, plus parent/s,have to try and decide “where the category of “male” ends and the category of “intersex” begins, or where the category of “intersex” ends and the category of “female” begins”. (Quote from the original Intersex Society of North America) Sometimes a decision can’t be made at birth. It is estimated that about 1.7% of the population is born with intersex traits. That is a significant number. We need to understand biological realities.(The Hooven point) We need to learn how to talk about them in an accurate and respectful way (The Hooven and Lewis point). Whether pregnant people remains a part of that talk remains to be seen. And that’s the end of my limited understanding of the subject!


      August 31, 2021 at 3:25 AM

      • I always appreciate your thoughtful comments. We all have much to learn.

        I’ve been particularly alarmed by the way “ideology has been infiltrating science,” to use the words quoted in the Crimson article you linked to. In 2019 I read two books, Blueprint and Innate,

        that summarize the latest scientific findings about heredity. Both books reveal that DNA evidence increasingly supports the nature side in the longstanding nature-nurture debate. In contrast, virtually all social sciences for the past century have emphasized nurture at the expense of nature. Studies in recent years that have tabulated the political leanings of professors in the liberal arts and social sciences have found conservatives more and more overwhelmed by their opposites, sometimes in ratios as extreme as 1:20 or 1:30. In such echo chambers, ideology has been running rampant.

        I had to look up DSD and found an explanation at

        It’s understandable that many women athletes have complained about the unfairness of having to compete with people who have some biologically male traits. One solution that has been proposed is to create a separate category for DSD or intersex athletes. In boxing there have long been separate weight categories because it wouldn’t be fair for a small and light-weight boxer to fight against a much larger and heavier boxer.

        Steve Schwartzman

        August 31, 2021 at 7:33 AM

        • Thanks for those 3 links. All very interesting. I don’t often have the energy to read ‘serious’ books but I do enjoy listening to interviews and book reviews on them on our excellent national radio service. I haven’t come across Blueprint and Innate yet.


          September 2, 2021 at 2:29 AM

          • Here’s a 43-minute talk by Kevin J. Mitchell, author of Innate:

            And here’s a 38-minute interview with Robert Plomin, author of Blueprint:

            Steve Schwartzman

            September 2, 2021 at 5:15 AM

            • Wondering if the links didn’t load?


              September 3, 2021 at 6:34 PM

              • Maybe what’s within the following brackets will work for you if you copy and paste into your Internet browser:

                Steve Schwartzman

                September 3, 2021 at 9:26 PM

                • Thank you.


                  September 4, 2021 at 4:44 AM

                • You’re welcome. Plomin received his Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Texas at Austin in 1974, a couple of years before I moved here.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  September 4, 2021 at 5:22 AM

                • I particularly enjoyed his interview. I like that he expressed optimism.


                  September 4, 2021 at 6:09 AM

                • Yes, he’s enthusiastic about the discoveries that the latest DNA technology will let researchers make.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  September 5, 2021 at 4:25 AM

      • Thank you for your support, as Bartyles & James used to say.


        September 2, 2021 at 10:29 AM

        • I had to look this one up! Good one.


          September 3, 2021 at 6:35 PM

          • Yes, I am that old… though perhaps younger than Mr. Schwartzman. But not by much. Enjoyed your dialogue with Steve. I tend to throw a “grenade” into a room and walk away. Arguing tired me out. I need to practice ”active listening” (aka “Rogerian listening” or “active listening” more often). @Gallivanta


            September 5, 2021 at 9:04 AM

            • I know I am younger than Steve. I also know I only have about a tenth of his energy, especially when it comes to writing about and discussing topical issues.


              September 6, 2021 at 2:40 AM

              • Writing about topical issues certainly wan’t my purpose in establishing this blog 10 years ago. After the middle of 2020, as events took dark turns, I began adding relevant quotations. Eventually I felt that those worsening events left me no choice but to speak out about them directly in my voice. You’re right that doing the research and writing it up coherently has taken lots of time. That’s a price I’ve been willing to pay. I wanted to be on record as standing against what I consider the dangerous directions my country is going in.

                Steve Schwartzman

                September 6, 2021 at 7:01 AM

  10. 😂😂😂😂


    August 30, 2021 at 11:43 AM

  11. The Queens love their Gregg’s!


    August 30, 2021 at 1:44 PM

  12. Gorgeous shot, Steve.

    Jane Lurie

    August 30, 2021 at 5:40 PM

  13. Beautiful butterfly and capture, Steve.

    Eliza Waters

    August 30, 2021 at 8:19 PM

    • With so many queen butterflies there, I had to come away with at least one decent picture; in fact I got several.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 31, 2021 at 7:35 AM

  14. What a beautiful butterfly. Great shot.


    August 31, 2021 at 6:44 AM

  15. With butterflies it does often take multiple tries.

    Steve Schwartzman

    September 3, 2021 at 3:07 PM

  16. […] August 20th at the Hanna Springs Sculpture Garden in LampasasI found this tiny bee on a rain-lily, Zephyranthes […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: