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I'm a woman entering "the third chapter" and fascinated by the journey.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Butterfly Sex

Yesterday I learned how to tell the boys from the girls, at least among monarch butterflies. (I did figure this out for humans a few decades ago, although I pay less and less attention to such things as the years go by.) At the end of a delightful one-day symposium on sustainable landscaping, the director of the Dawes Arboretum in Newark, Ohio, released several monarch butterflies bred on the site and tagged for research. These butterflies are part of the fall brood that, if all goes well, will find their way to Mexico to spend the winter.

The release took place in the arboretum's pollinator garden, a smorgasbord of nectar and host plants to leave any pollinating insect drooling (if insects could drool). None of the plants were new to me, but the garden was a delight, anyway.

My takeaway for the day was a lesson on how to sex monarchs. The males, like this handsome specimen resting on a swamp milkweed, have two black dots on the hindwings,

while the females lack such ornamentation. They're gorgeous, anyway.


Not long after these pictures were taken, despite its being a chilly day, these young adult butterflies began their spiraling flight into the first leg of their long journey south.

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