Monarch Butterfly on Black-Eyed Susan

Monarch Butterfly on Black-Eyed Susans
2017
One cannot draw a series of butterflies without doing the most famous of all--the Monarch. The butterflies feed on a wide variety of flowering plants, and I have long loved the simple yet beautiful Black-Eyed Susans.

It's amazing how drawing something--as opposed to photographing it--can really teach one about the subject. Prior to drawing the butterfly, without looking at a picture I could not have told you that she (I learned a male would have black blob on the hind wing, so it must be a female) has a spotted body, or that the edges of her wings are black with white spots; it's not that I couldn't see these details, but that I had never truly made note of them before.

Monarch on Blazing Star
Monarchs have become fewer and fewer in recent years, as their sole larval food--milkweed--is losing its habitat. However, I have discovered that along the Lake Wobegon bike trail, the old railroad bed that travels across half the state of Minnesota, milkweed (and monarchs) are plentiful still. All summer long, it has been rare to ride the trail without seeing a single monarch, and since the Blazing Star has started blooming, it's rare to see fewer than half a dozen on a short ride.
Monarch caterpillar on milkweed

Black-Eyed Susans ~ Rudbeckia hirta
Photographs by Rachael Koppendrayer, 2017