Monarch Butterfly Scales

August 2021 Update. Monarch butterfly feet! Also the edge of an eye and a few more scales.

One would be hard pressed to think of something new to say about the Monarch Butterfly. Even lamenting its imminent extinction has become commonplace. That it’s all been said doesn’t detract from their striking beauty, which is no less apparent viewed through a microscope. I was surprised by the rich rosettes of setae on their bodies, ranging from black to creamy off-white. Their legs are adorned in iridescent blue scales, which are almost impossible to notice when seeing them in the field. I found upwards of a dozen of their bodies last summer along the local highways. That’s just one small strip, checked periodically but not meticulously. It’s hard to fathom that we value these creatures so much with our words and feelings while doing absolutely nothing to address the additional pressures we’ve directly inflicted on them with our vehicles. Our climate crisis alone is enough to wipe out these animals. We just keep hurrying their fates along, hurrying to our jobs and homes.