Monarch butterflies my photos, my words

The monarch butterfly, seen on flowers and in the fields of Central Ohio during the summer months and the subject of my featured gallery for October, is unique among butterflies. It’s the only butterfly that migrates north and south, coming as far north as Canada each summer before returning to Mexico for the winter.

But the monarch’s life span is so short — usually no more than two months for butterflies born in early summer — that no one monarch makes the round-trip migration. Female monarchs deposit eggs during the migration, with the offspring completing the journey.

A monarch butterfly feeds on a wild teasel plant in Sharon Woods Metro Park, Westerville, Ohio.

I don’t set out on a photo hike with a plan to shoot butterflies. I’m chasing birds and other wildlife. But if I encounter a butterfly in the right spot (on a plant close enough to get a good shot and with an uncluttered background that allows the butterfly to stand out), I’ll get the shot. That’s why almost all of the butterfly photos in my files were captured using the Canon EF 600mm f/4L telephoto lens I carry when I’m photographing wildlife. It’s a massive lens, almost 18 inches long and weighing about nine pounds, and it works very well when photographing birds. But if I run across a butterfly in an interesting setting while I’m shooting wildlife I’ll go ahead and get the shot.

Monarch butterfly on colorful flowers, Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge, Hilton Head, S.C.

It may seem like overkill using that massive lens when capturing a “macro” or close-up of a butterfly, but it works very well. I can get the shot from 15 feet away without disturbing the butterfly.

Monarch butterfly in a field, Sharon Woods Metro Park, Westerville, Ohio.
Monarch butterfly showing wear, Sharon Woods Metro Park, Westerville, Ohio.
Monarch butterfly on a flower, Sharon Woods Metro Park, Westerville, Ohio.
Monarch butterfly hanging on flower, Prairie Oaks Metro Park, West Jefferson, Ohio.
Monarch butterfly on a yellow flower, Sharon Woods Metro Park, Westerville, Ohio.
Monarch butterfly on green leaves, Sharon Woods Metro Park, Westerville, Ohio.
Monarch butterfly surrounded by yellow, Sharon Woods Metro Park, Westerville, Ohio.
Monarch butterfly in a field, Sharon Woods Metro Park, Westerville, Ohio.
Monarch butterfly on flowers, Sharon Woods Metro Park, Westerville, Ohio.
Monarch butterfly in a yellow field, Sharon Woods Metro Park, Westerville, Ohio.
Monarch butterfly on colorful flowers, Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge, Hilton Head, S.C.
Monarch butterfly among flowers, Prairie Oaks Metro Park, West Jefferson, Ohio.
Monarch butterfly on leaves, Slate Run Metro Park, Canal Winchester, Ohio.
Monarch butterfly on a teasel plant, Sharon Woods Metro Park, Westerville, Ohio.
Monarch butterfly on a leaf, Prairie Oaks Metro Park, West Jefferson, Ohio.
Monarch butterfly on a flower, Sharon Woods Metro Park, Westerville, Ohio.
Monarch butterfly on a flower, Sharon Woods Metro Park, Westerville, Ohio.
Monarch butterfly in a field, Prairie Oaks Metro Park, West Jefferson, Ohio.
Monarch butterfly in a field, Prairie Oaks Metro Park, West Jefferson, Ohio.
Monarch butterfly in a field, Clear Creek Metro Park, Rockbridge, Ohio.
A monarch butterfly feeds on a wild teasel plant in Sharon Woods Metro Park, Westerville, Ohio.
Monarch butterfly on a flower, Slate Run Metro Park, Canal Winchester, Ohio.
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Created By
Pat Hemlepp
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