In organizing my Monarch book proposal to send to a friend, who has a friend who publishes children’s books, I am sorting through my illustrations. This painting was completed at the end of summer last and illustrates a male Monarch (above) and female (below) ascending towards a maple tree during their mating flight. He carries her and together they stay joined, abdomen to abdomen, for several hours–truly a beautiful thing to observe.
I lay down on the ground under a neighboring maple tree and sketched while looking up into the canopy. This is what I imagine the leaf net canopy looks like to the Monarchs as they ascend into the trees.
PLANT MILKWEED AND YOU, TOO, WILL HAVE MONARCHS MATING IN YOUR GARDEN!!
Milkweed is the food plant of the Monarch caterpillars. I often observe females drinking nectar from the milkweed blossoms one moment and the very next, depositing an egg on the underside of a freshly unfurled leaf, near the top of the plant. We observe the greatest numbers of caterpillars on the foliage of Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) and Marsh Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata).