Danaus plexippus Photos

Terra Sol Customer
Sunday, June 15, 2014
Terra Sol Customer

Yesterday I had intended to vist the Santa Barbara Natural History Museum. I just got my macro lens back from being serviced, and what better place could there be to put it through it's paces than wandering through the Butterflies Alive exhibit? As so often happens, Saturday flew by too quickly. Fortunately, Terra Sol Garden Center is open until six these days. We stopped there to get some peppers for the garden and I thought I would snap a few shots just to test the lens.

When we arrived we found our peppers, and a great display of various flowers grouped into sections based upon what they will attract to your garden. Sure enough, in the butterfly section right next to the Milkweeds was another Terra Sol customer and my butterfly photo opportunity. This beautiful Monarch was a very patient model too, posing on several different flowers and waiting just long enough for me to catch up and snap a few shots before finding a new perch.

I'll still find time to make it over to the Butterflies Alive exhibit sometime soon, and maybe I'll get some great hummingbird photos with my new flowers too.


Backlit Monarchs
Sunday, January 26, 2014
Backlit Monarchs

It's a wonderful time of year for a trip to the Coronado Butterfly Preserve. This was last weekend about two-thirty in the afternoon when the light was coming around behind them. But the light moves fast in their little gorge, only a few moments later the sun was gone from this cluster.


Resting Monarchs
Thursday, April 4, 2013
Resting Monarchs

This is a shot from our beautiful Coronado Butterfly Preserve in Goleta. This year the butterfly population seemed a bit smaller than years past, but they are still an absoultely amazing sight.


Backlit Monarchs
Monday, December 10, 2012
Backlit Monarchs

It's the time of year when the Monarch Butterflies return to their overwintering spot in Santa Barbara, the Coronado Butterfly Preserve. According to the experts the clusters of butterflies are small this year, although it's still early. Even so the experience is amazing. This is just one of the small clusters, but the position of the sun was perfect. What you can't see are the hundreds of butterflies fluttering around the grove. It's a wonderful spot that only exists because of the hard work of volunteers and donors who have protected it.


Monarch Profile
Tuesday, July 10, 2012
Monarch Profile

Monarch Butterfly [Danaus plexippus] on a Zinnia at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History's Butterflies alive. It took a bit of manuvering to get the profile shot I was looking for, and although there are many more opportunities at the Natural History Museum, it's still fun to try to get just the shot you're looking for.


November Butterfly
Sunday, November 6, 2011
November Butterfly

Our winter friends are back! The last couple of weeks have seen quite an increase in the number of Monarch butterflies around Santa Barbara. This one floated by as I was chasing a Hummingbird. The hummingbird turned out to be too shy, but there is always someone around who loves to have their picture taken!


Fluttering Monarch
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Fluttering Monarch

This was from a trip to a local nursury just before Christmas. Santa Barbara is a popular place for them to hang out in the Winter. We actually have a grove of Eucalyptus trees they congregate in. I'd love to go take more shots of them, but the way it's raining right now I don't think I could make it through the mud.


Basking Monarch
Tuesday, October 3, 2006
Basking Monarch

We spent a day in San Luis Obispo last week. It is a fun place to wander around and the weather was great for it. We found this guy while walking the hound by the mission.


Long-horn Caterpillar
Thursday, August 17, 2006
Long-horn Caterpillar

The hound and I were wandering down De La Vina Street today. Only a few steps into our walk I noticed a beautiful orange flower growing by the edge of the sidewalk. When I leaned down to examine it I found a pleasant surprise!

Of course when I saw this guy I suspected that my beautiful flower was actually a weed. But that's ok. On one small plant there were two of these large Monarch caterpillars.

Monarchs dine almost exclusively on Milkweed. It gives them a lovely defense against predators. You see since the Milkweed is poisonous (and tastes terrible to almost anything with the apparent exception of Monarch caterpillars) It makes the caterpillars and resulting butterflies poisonous and taste terrible to just about anything that would try to make a snack of them.

As I was sitting on the sidewalk, watching the caterpillar it was amazing how many people went by (looking at me like I was crazy) and missed such an interesting sight. Of course I guess it is only interesting to crazy photographers like me and other fortunate people with child-like curiosity.


Monarch Chrysalis
Monday, May 8, 2006
Monarch Chrysalis

We went for another walk today. Along the way we stopped by our neighbor's yard to check on the caterpillar from our Saturday walk, and this is what we found! I thought he looked like he was trying to get comfortable there.


Queen Caterpillar
Saturday, May 6, 2006
Queen Caterpillar

We were admiring a neighbors beautiful roses during a long walk today, and we noticed this guy climbing up one of the stems. It looked like he might have been trying to get comfortable and find a place to hang out (literally) and become a butterfly.


Monarch & Zinnia
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
Monarch & Zinnia

I really love the background in this image. It is a bit abstract. And the low aperture that makes the background so interesting made the butterfly's wings just out of focus enough to look like they are fluttering a bit.


Backlit Monarch
Friday, September 16, 2005
Backlit Monarch

This flower seems to be a favorite of the Monarchs, and this was almost a tree. So, it made it easy to get a great backlit shot.


Monarch Motel
Wednesday, February 2, 2005
Monarch Motel

This looks like something you would only see on Animal Planet. But Santa Barbara has one of the largest Southern California overwintering spots for the Monarch Butterfly.

Until about a month ago this spot was in serious danger of being turned into multi-million dollar condos. The Friends of the Ellwood Mesa had two years to raise $20.4 million to purchase the 137 acres and turn it into a preserve. An anonymous donation of $307,000 in the last week of the campaign sealed the deal.

The truly amazing thing about these butterflies is none of them have ever been here before. During the summer breeding season Monarchs only live for two to six weeks. So the Butterflies that migrated north last year are long gone (and I bet it was the trip that killed them!) These guys are in a hibernation-like state brought on by the changing weather in the fall. They are lucky, they can live for up to eight months (or unlucky if you think about the 1000+ mile flight they have to make to be safe in the winter.)

The fall generation of Monarchs make the migration from the north, and settle in Eucalyptus groves on the coast of California and in Mexico. They live through the winter before coming out of the hibernation state, called "reproductive diapause", at which time they are ready to usher in the new generation of Monarchs.