Still Learning To See

Help spread the…seeds!

I’ve written in the past about the deadly decline of Monarch butterflies over the past several years. This change is so noticeable in the fall when Monarch collect by the thousands and migrate by the millions to a small area in central Mexico.

Monarch-0873The decline is primarily the result of industrial farming across much of the United States where routinely crops are planted right to the edges of a field. There is no room left for the rich diversity of what used to be a fencerow ecology, a place where birds and beneficial insects found homes. Further, because most of the corn and soybeans being planted have been genetically modified to tolerate herbicides, the entire field is sprayed to kill all non-GMO plants. This includes milkweed, the species on which Monarch larvae feed exclusively. The fields become industrial wastelands after a year or two.

NBNC-3194Milkweed seedpods are ripening at this time of year, making it is a great time to help spread them—though, honestly, with each seed being carried by a small, fluffy “transporter” they do just fine on their own. But take a few seeds home and plant them around the edges of your yard or in a flower bed where they can grown and provide food for our endangered orange and black friends.

This entry was published on November 8, 2014 at 8:16 am. It’s filed under Fall colors, Flowers, John Snell, Photograph, Vermont and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

4 thoughts on “Help spread the…seeds!

  1. Deborah Leu on said:

    Beautiful shot, John. And a timely reminder. I’ve seen a noticeable decline in monarch numbers around here the last few years. The local state park (once a working farm), mows fields on a rotating basis. The unmown fields always have lots of milkweed. The first few years we lived here, there were lots of monarchs. This year we saw very few.

  2. Lizabeth Snell on said:

    Nice!! ❤️

    Sent from my iPad


  3. Chica Snell on said:

    I only saw two monarchs this year and also a dead one in the driveway. I brought that one inside to keep. Milkweed plants have a wonderful mauve colored flower which has a very special fragrance that I love whenever I am near. I always have been so amazed as to how perfectly all the seeds are inside of the pod. Then, when the pod has sufficiently dried, it pops open to release hundreds of ” parachutes” carrying a seed somewhere new to grow. Milkweed plants are so wonderful and if you are lucky you will find the life of a monarch on one or more. It was always a thrill to bring them into the classroom as a gorgeous black, yellow and white striped larva. Then, with lots of milkweed plants/leaves for them we would watch the caterpillar eat the leaves and next go into its “J” shape. As it hung in this J shape it began to wrap itself in a emerald green chrysalis which had gold speckles around one end, almost as if it was adorned with a gold necklace. After almost a week, the chrysalis turns dark until it is black and then becomes transparent so you can actually see the monarch inside. Suddenly the the chrysalis splits and the monarch butterfly emerges. It begins to “pump” up its wings and the move them slowly back and forth while they dry. We had different flowers for the monarch to land on and possibly use as food and moisture, but we knew it was best to let them go. A while after their wings “pumped” up and dried we would take them outdoors and set them free. The class often would say goodbye to them as they hovered around for a moment or two as if they were also saying goodbye. This will always be such a miracle to me and I am thankful that I have been able to observe this with my classes.

    Sent from my iPad


  4. Thanks John .. for this beautiful shot and all this info.. We had so many Monarchs in Michigan just a few years ago .. that would cover our “butterfly bush”.. Believe it or not.. I photographed them even on the island of Oahu in the middle of the mighty Pacific Ocean!

    We’ve been in the south of a France for the last 3 years.. & there’s a marked decline in all butterfly species thus year.. We find this so disturbing..

    Great though to hear the teachers comments! Hopeful! :0)

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