Back to Back Issues Page
Painting Art Ezine: Learning more about our painting subjects
October 14, 2022
- Welcome to the Ezine!

More About Our Painting Subjects

It's fun to learn more about our painting subjects.

Here is how I learned more about one of my favorite painting subjects.

Painting and gardening are my two hobbies. If I'm not doing one, more than likely I'll be doing the other soon.

Planting and growing flowers for the butterflies is very rewarding. When all the butterflies come to the flowers, then it's time to paint them.

Butterflies are one of my favorite things to paint. Let's learn more about this lovely painting subject.

Monarch Butterflies

One butterfly many people are familiar with is the Monarch Butterfly.

Monarch Butterflies are seen all across the United States. They also live in the Mediterranean area, Indonesia, Australia, Hawaii and some Pacific Islands.

It's October and the Monarchs are heading south for the winter. They travel up to 2,000 miles south to Mexico for the winter.

Some stop on the way in southern California, Texas or Florida and spend their winter there.

Identifying the Monarch Butterfly

The Monarch's orange wings have black veins and black edges with two rows of white dots. Their wing-span is around four inches. Their body is black with white dots.

Their fore-wing is brighter orange than their hind-wings. This is especially noticeable on the underside of their wings.

Males have an enlarged spot their hind wings containing a scent pouch. The scent pouch is lacking on the females. The female's veins are a little bit thicker and her wing-span is slightly smaller than the male's.

Monarch Mimics

Other butterflies mimic the Monarchs so birds think they taste bad and won't eat them.

Monarch butterflies taste bad because of a chemical their caterpillars eat from the butterfly weeds.

The Viceroy Butterflies look very similar to Monarchs. But notice the heavy black band across their hind-wings?

The Monarch is lacking these heavy black bands. The Viceroy is also about an inch smaller than the Monarch.

Monarch Butterfly Migration

The Monarch migration has made them a favorite butterfly of many people.

They have never been where they are going. Their grandparents or ancestors flew there, but they have never been there.

How do they know where they are going? This is an interesting fact scientists have been trying to answer.

Some scientists think the Monarch butterflies sense the magnetic field in the earth.

Monarchs migrate every year up to 2,000 miles. Amazing! What courageous beauties!

How can they do it? Who taught them?

Where do the Monarchs go?

The majority of Monarchs head to fir trees in Mexico. Members of their family sat on these very same trees in previous years.

They go right back to the same area where their ancestors have over-wintered in previous generations.

By mid-November the fir trees in the area where they overwinter are covered with them. They are relatively inactive during the winter. They hang together in large clusters on the trees.

In early spring they will start feeding, breed and produce a new generation. Then about mid-March the new generation will head back north.

How awesome is that!

They fly north into the southern United States. When they get there they lay eggs and produce another generation.

The eggs hatch and the new generation keeps flying north. In the fall, between August to October, they start heading back south.

It is the third or fourth generation since they left Mexico.

Plant Flowers for the Monarchs

Monarchs lay their eggs on butterfly milkweeds. When the eggs hatch the caterpillar feeds on the milkweeds. Plant one of the more than 100 varieties of milkweeds to feed the Monarch caterpillars.

The glycoside chemical in milkweeds make the Monarch Butterflies toxic and taste bad to predators.

The Monarch Butterflies will come to feed from the flowers and lay eggs on butterfly milkweed, so include them in your landscape.

Also, include plenty of fall blooming flowers, such as Asters and Mexican Sunflowers to feed the Monarchs while they are migrating south for the winter.

Butterflies bring so much joy to our backyard gardens. Invite the mighty Monarch Butterfly to your yard.

Then you can do some butterfly paintings!

There are many types of butterflies for your paintings

Next month “The fastest way to learn painting."

Back to Back Issues Page