Thursday, September 18, 2008

Butterfly Tasting

I had no idea that monarch butterflies have “no more flavor than dried toast.” So Dr. Urquhart, an entomologist, learned while eating a number of monarchs in the field. Since monarchs feed on milkweed, which contains “heart poisons similar to digitalis,” birds that feed on the monarchs get ill. In the past, it was assumed that monarchs would taste bitter due to the acrid milkweed. But, no, apparently to the human tongue they taste more like bland breakfast food. (I don’t dare imagine the texture … a parchment-like crunch?)

And speaking of taste, did you know that butterflies taste with their feet?

These facts are nestled in Pilgrim at Tinker Creek (pp. 244-245 in Three by Annie Dillard, a collection of some of her works.)

I believe that the monarch pictured on a thistle (above) is female, because she doesn’t have the two dots or tiny thickening of black lines on the lower wings that the males have. The photograph was taken late yesterday afternoon at Ward Pound Ridge Reservation in Cross River, New York. The milkweed, beautifully going to seed, is from the same park, same day. Click on images to enlarge.


Pam said...

Two beautiful photographs -- one mirroring the other. The close up of the butterfly is really lovely!

Christine said...

Thanks, Pam. It was beautiful to watch as it fluttered flower to flower. Orange stained glass in motion!