The Monarch Highway

The landscape that parallels roadways, like the I-35 corridor, can provide natural habitat to support the annual migration of the monarch butterfly.

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Learn all about the plants and pollinators as numbered below.


 

THE GREAT MONARCH MIGRATION

There are two main monarch butterfly migrations in North America. In the fall months, monarchs halt reproductive development and begin flying south for the winter using several flyways. After summering in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Arizona and Nevada, western monarchs travel to their overwintering grounds along the California coast, with some joining their eastern cousins in Mexico. The more prominent and well-known eastern migration travels south from States and Provinces along the central and eastern US-Canada border. Many of these flyways east of the Rocky Mountains merge along the I-35 corridor, known as the "Monarch Highway", in the central United States. These monarchs make their way to overwintering grounds in oyamel fir forests of the Sierra Madre Mountains in central Mexico. These overwintering grounds are 2,400 – 3,600 meters above sea level, providing an ideal location for monarchs to conserve energy. It seldom gets too hot or too cold in the winter, and the humidity of these cloud forests keeps the butterflies from drying out. During these months, monarchs need water to break down their fat reserves into sugars needed to survive. As temperatures warm, the butterflies become reproductively active, and create the next generation. This generation and successive generations make the long journey back to the northern United States and Canada.

 

To sustain the southern migration in the fall and the migration back north in the spring, which spans 3-4 generations, monarchs need consistent sources of nectar bearing flowers at the appropriate times. Habitat patches of these plants are known as nectar corridors. These sugar rich nectar sources allow the butterflies to rest and refuel along the way, which is especially important for the fall migration because they need to gain weight and build up fat reserves before arriving in Mexico.

Milkweeds are the host plants for monarchs. They are the only plants the larvae can eat, and without milkweeds they would not develop into butterflies. Because of this, monarchs will only lay their eggs on milkweed. The milky sap found in milkweeds contains toxic compounds. The larvae incorporate these compounds into their bodies, making both larval and adult forms unpalatable to predators. The contrasting orange and black coloration serves as a warning to potential predators.


Life History
Monarch butterflies are among the most recognizable animals in North America. Like all butterflies, there are four stages in the monarch life cycle. The egg hatches into the larval form, or caterpillar. The monarch caterpillar is very easily identified because of its distinctive white, yellow, and black stripes, and black tentacles on the thorax near the head, and on the lower abdomen. The larva transforms into a chrysalis, or pupa, that is green with yellow markings. The adult butterfly that emerges has a black body with predominantly orange wings. The wings have black veins and a thick black border on the outer edge. Rows of white spots decorate this border.

 

The PLANTS

Oenothera speciosa (1)

An upright to sprawling perennial, Oenothera speciosa features large, four-petaled flowers, ranging from dark pink to white. Leaves are typically linear and pinnate. Throughout the northern portion of its range, evening primrose opens its flowers in the evening and closes them again in the early morning. In the southern part of its range, it opens its flowers in the morning and closes them in the evening. This species is hardy and drought resistant, and can form large colonies.



Geographic Distribution – ranging from Connecticut west to California, northern Mexico to Iowa
Habitat – prairies, plains, meadows, pastures, savannahs, hillsides, slopes, woodland edges, forest openings, disturbed areas
Pollinators – hummingbirds, large butterflies, sphinx moths
Mature Height – 1-2ft
Bloom Period – February - July
IUCN Threat Status – not yet listed
NatureServe Conservation Status – G5-Secure


Baptisia bracteata (1)

Members of the legume family, cream wild indigo has a typical pea-like flower structure. Of the five petals, one is an upright banner, and two are a pair of wings that enclose the remaining two petals called the keel. Flowers are white to pale yellow in color. Stems are light green to purple and bear alternate, trifoliate leaves. The grayish green leaflets are oblong to lanceolate in shape with smooth margins. Queen bumblebees emerging from hibernation are the primary pollinators of this plant.

Geographic Distribution – central US, from Texas to Minnesota and Kansas to Kentucky
Habitat – prairies and open woods
Pollinators – bumblebees and other native bees
Mature Height – 1-2ft
Bloom Period – March - June
IUCN Threat Status – not yet listed
NatureServe Conservation Status – T4-Apparently Secure


Asclepias incarnata (2)

Swamp milkweed is a perennial growing up to 4 ft. in height. It flowers in terminal displays of large, showy, deep pink to rose purple flowers. Flowers are clustered in umbels at the tops of branching stems. Leaves are opposite and lanceolate along the stem. The plant is useful to many pollinators, but is of special importance to monarch butterflies as milkweed species are the only food source for the caterpillars.

Geographic Distribution – Manitoba, Quebec, and Nova Scotia; from New England south to Georgia; west to Louisiana, and Texas; north to North Dakota.
Habitat – wet meadow, prairie, field, riparian, swamp, marsh. Most often found on the margins of flooded plains, lakes, ponds, waterways, marshes, swamps, and other wet areas. 
Pollinators – bumblebee, honeybees, other native bees, wasps, flies, swallowtail butterflies, greater fritillaries, monarch butterflies, and skippers
Mature Height – 2-4ft
Bloom Period – June - October
IUCN Threat Status – Least Concern
NatureServe Conservation Status – G5-Secure

 

Asclepias syriaca (2)

Flowering in umbels, common milkweed appears to bear large balls of pink to purple flowers. The stem is unbranching with broad-oblong, light green leaves up to 8 in. long. Milky sap exudes from stems and leaves when broken. The plant is useful to many pollinators, but is of special importance to Monarch butterflies as milkweed species are the only food source for the caterpillars.

Geographic Distribution – Saskatchewan to New Brunswick; south to Georgia; west through Tennessee to Kansas and Iowa.
Habitat – old fields, roadsides, and waste places.
Pollinators – native bees, wasps, flies, skipper, and butterflies
Mature Height – 3-5ft
Bloom Period – June - August
IUCN Threat Status – not yet listed
NatureServe Conservation Status – G5-Secure

 

Dracopis amplexicaulis (3)

Known as clasping coneflower, this annual species is readily distinguished from similar plants like Black-eyed Susan and Mexican Hat by its leaves that clasp to the stem. The smooth stem ends in a solitary, terminal flower head made up of dark, columnar central disk flowers and drooping, yellow ray flowers with purplish bases.

Geographic Distribution – Florida west to New Mexico, Texas north to Illinois; North Dakota
Habitat – ditches, ravines, depressions
Pollinators – bees and butterflies
Mature Height – 2-3ft
Bloom Period – April - July
IUCN Threat Status – not yet listed
NatureServe Conservation Status – G5-Secure

 

Echinacea purpurea (3)

An easily grown garden plant, this popular perennial flowers in purple rays drooping away from the spiny, brown central disk. Flowers are long-lasting, and occur singly at the top of smooth stems up to 5 ft. in height. Leaves are coarse and dark green, ovate in shape. Often, dead stems will remain upright during the winter months, providing food for birds that feed on the seeds in the blackened cones.

Geographic Distribution – Florida north to New York, Ontario, and Wisconsin; West to Texas and Colorado
Habitat – Well-drained limestone, sand, clay, loam. Rocky, open woods; thickets; prairies 
Pollinators – native bees, monarch butterflies, fritillaries, painted ladies, swallowtail butterflies, sulfur butterflies, white butterflies, and skippers
Mature Height – 2-5ft
Bloom Period – April - September
IUCN Threat Status – not yet listed
NatureServe Conservation Status – G4-Apparently Secure

 

Prunus serotina (5)

The largest and most important native cherry, black cherry is a deciduous tree with white flowers growing in drooping racemes. Flowers begin to bloom after the shiny, oblong leaves have emerged. The fruit is a dark red that changes to black in the fall. Cherry-like odors emit from crushed leaves and bark, but other than the fruit the plant has the potential to be toxic.

Geographic Distribution – in the US, Maine to North Dakota, Florida to Arizona; in Canada, Nova Scotia to Ontario, British Columbia
Habitat – moist or dry, open woods; fence rows; roadsides; old fields; thickets, woodlands, canyons, floodplains, and lower riparian slopes.
Pollinators – bumblebees, honeybees, other native bees, and flies
Mature Height – 25-110ft
Bloom Period – March - June
IUCN Threat Status – not yet listed
NatureServe Conservation Status – G5-Secure

 

Asclepias tuberosa (6)

This milkweed is rather bushy and produces flat-topped umbels of orange flowers. Stems are hairy, but without the milky sap distinctive of most milkweeds. Leaves are alternate and lanceolate entire in shape. The plant is useful to many pollinators, but is of special importance to monarch butterflies as milkweed species are the only food source for the caterpillars. An especially long bloom period also makes this plant available as a nectar source for adult monarchsfor much of the monarch’s migration.

Geographic Distribution – Ontario to Newfoundland; New England south to Florida; west to Texas; north through Colorado to Minnesota. 
Habitat – grows in prairies, open woods, canyons, and hillsides. Plant in well-drained sand, loam, clay, or limestone.
Pollinators – honeybees, other native bees, wasps, fritillaries, swallowtail butterflies, monarch butterflies, hummingbirds
Mature Height – 1-2ft
Bloom Period – May - September
IUCN Threat Status – not yet listed
NatureServe Conservation Status – G5-Secure

 

Liatris aspera (7)

As one of the more popular gayfeathers, tall gayfeather flowers in long, terminal flower spikes at the ends of the stem. Flowers are purple to pink in rayless heads. Stems are slightly zig-zag and lined with short and narrow bright green leaves. This plant often grows in dry soils and in open, sunny areas.

Geographic Distribution – Ontario to West Virginia and South Carolina, west to North Dakota and Texas
Habitat – dry plains; prairies; thin woods
Pollinators – native bees, honeybees, bumblebees, monarch butterflies, painted ladies, black swallowtails, sulfur butterflies, skippers, and hummingbirds
Mature Height – 1-4ft
Bloom Period – August - September
IUCN Threat Status – not yet listed
NatureServe Conservation Status – G4-Apparently Secure

 

Gaillardia pulchella (7)

This popular annual has showy flower heads with distinctively colored rays that are red at the base and yellow at the tips. The central disk flowers are brownish red. The stem is hairy and leafy near the base. It also becomes woody at the base late in the season. Indian blanket grows well in dry, sandy soils and can be found lining roadsides in the southwest.

Geographic Distribution – South Dakota to Kansas and Louisiana, west to Colorado and Arizona; naturalized east to the Atlantic states & west to CA, south to Oaxaca in southern Mexico. Exotic in Canada from Manitoba to Quebec.
Habitat – dry plains & open areas, widespread in calcareous and sandy-calcareous prairies. Well-drained sand, loam, calcareous soils.
Pollinators – native bees and butterflies
Mature Height – 1-2ft
Bloom Period – May - August
IUCN Threat Status – not yet listed
NatureServe Conservation Status – G4-Apparently Secure

 

Coreopsis tinctoria (8)

Known for its abundant and distinctive flowers, golden tickseed is a prevalent native annual west of the Mississippi river, and escaped from cultivation east of the river. Flowers feature yellow rays that are painted reddish brown at the base. Rays are toothed at the tips and surround the central, reddish brown disks. Leaves are pinnately compound and mostly growing on the lower half of the smooth, branching stems.

Geographic Distribution – native to central US states and naturalized throughout the US; naturalized in Canada from British Columbia to Quebec.
Habitat – prairie, plains, meadows, pastures, savannahs, roadsides, pond banks 
Pollinators – native bees, wasps, flies, butterflies, skippers, and beetles
Mature Height – 1-2ft
Bloom Period – April - June
IUCN Threat Status – not yet listed
NatureServe Conservation Status – G5-Secure

 

Symphyotrichum laeve (8)

An attractive blue aster, smooth blue aster is a mostly toothed, smooth leaved perennial. It’s unbranching stem bears an inflorescence of many small flowerheads with blue to purple rays and yellow center disks. Flowers are especially attractive to butterflies, and the late bloom provides monarchs with essential nutrients during the fall months.

Geographic Distribution – Throughout much of North America, except Florida, California, and far northern Canada. 
Habitat – open woods; dry to mesic prairies
Pollinators – honeybees, bumblebees, other native bees, wasps, flies, butterflies, and skippers
Mature Height – 2-4ft
Bloom Period – August - October
IUCN Threat Status – not yet listed
NatureServe Conservation Status – G5-Secure

 

Abies religiosa (10)

The oyamel fir is a fast growing tree, native to cloud forests in the mountains of central and southern Mexico. The climate created by these cloud forests makes stands of oyamel fir ideal overwintering habitat for monarchs. High elevation brings stable temperatures, and the humidity of the forest keeps the insects from drying out.

Geographic Distribution – central and southern Mexico
Habitat – high elevations (6,900ft – 13,500ft) in cloud forests with high rainfall; cool, humid summers and dry winters
Pollinators – wind pollinated, but provides important overwintering habitat for monarchs
Mature Height – 80-160ft
Bloom Period – no flowers
IUCN Threat Status – Least Concern
NatureServe Conservation Status – not yet listed

 

THE POLLINATORS

 

Danaus plexippus – Monarch Butterfly (4) (6)

Geographic Distribution – Southern Canada south through all of the United States, Central America, and most of South America. Also present in Australia, Hawaii, and other Pacific Islands.
Habitat – many open habitats including fields, meadows, weedy areas, marshes, and roadsides.
Size – wingspan: 8.6-10.5cm
Identification – Adult: Upperside of male is bright orange with wide black borders and black veins; hindwing has a patch of scent scales. Upperside of female is orange-brown with wide black borders and blurred black veins. Both sexes have white spots on borders and apex. Monarchs have a distinctive gliding flight with their wings in a V shape. Larva: entire length has alternating black, white, and yellow bands; front and hind ends have a pair of black tentacles projecting diagonally upward.
Plants Commonly Visited – Asclepias, Calotropis, Cynanchum, Gonolobus, Sarcostemma. Apocynum, Syringa, Trifolium pratense, Lantana, Asteraceae, Solidago, Liatris, Vernonia, Coreopsis.
Natureserve Conservation Status – G4-Apparently Secure

 

Xylocopa virginica - Eastern Carpenter Bee (2)

Geographic Distribution – All of the eastern US through Iowa and Texas, Ontario.
Habitat – forests and adjacent areas with flowers
Size – 19-23mm
Identification – Large, black hairless abdomen, yellow pile on thorax. Males have yellow/white face.
Plants Commonly Visited – Rhus glabra, Asclepias incarnata, Aster spp., Liatris spicata, Rudbeckia hirta, Vaccinium stamineum, Dalea spp., Melilotus officinalis, Monarda spp., Prunella vulgaris, Delphinium tricorne
Natureserve Conservation Status – G5-Secure

 

Papilio glaucus - Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (9)


Geographic Distribution – Eastern North America from Ontario south to Gulf coast, west to Colorado plains and central Texas.
Habitat – Deciduous broadleaf woods, forest edges, river valleys, parks, and suburbs.
Size – wingspan: 92-165mm
Identification – Adult: males are yellow and black above; females have blue on hindwing above. A dark morph occurs in females; black, stripes faintly visible. Larva: early instars resemble bird droppings, late instars are green with large eyespots on thorax, turns brown before pupating.
Plants Commonly Visited – Magnolia virginiana, Prunus serotins, Persea palustris, Liriodendron tulipifera, Chioanthus virginicus, Syringa vulgaris, Asclepias, Eupatorium
Natureserve Conservation Status – G5-Secure


Bombus impatiens - Common Eastern Bumble Bee (3)

Geographic Distribution – Eastern North America, from Ontario to Maine and south to Florida. Common on Atlantic coast; much less common near the western edge of its range, from North Dakota to Texas.
Habitat – very general, including intensively farmed areas, suburbs, and highly urban areas
Size – 17-21mm
Identification – The female has dark hairs around the face, blond hair on the thorax and tergum one of the abdomen. Tergum two of the abdomen is entirely black. The legs have black hair. The males have light hair around the face and long antennae.
Plants Commonly Visited – Rhus copallinum, Arnoglossum atriplicifolium, Aster spp., Bidens aristosa, Cirsium vulgare, Eupatoriadelphus purpureus, Eupatorium spp., Euthamia graminifolia, Helenium autumnale, Helianthus spp., Liatris aspera, Ratibida pinnata, Silphium perfoliatum, Solidago spp., Vernonia missurica, Impatiens pallida, Chamaecrista fasciculate, Lobelia siphilitica, Lonicera dioica, Symphoricarpos orbiculatus, Chamaedaphne calyculata, Vaccinium spp., Dalea purpurea, Lespedeza hirta, Robinia pseudoacacia, Gentiana andrewsii, Ribes missouriense, Aesculus hippocastanum, Hydrophyllum spp., Agastache nepetoides, Lycopus americanus, Nepeta cataria, Prunella vulgaris, Teucrium canadense, Allium cernuum, Lythrum alatum, Rhexia virginica, Polemonium reptans, Persicaria pensylvanica, Dodecatheon meadia, Delphinium tricorne, Malus coronaria, Spiraea alba, Cephalanthus occidentalis, Agalinis tenuifolia, Aureolaria pedicularia, Pedicularis spp., Penstemon digitalis, Scrophularia marilandica, Veronicastrum virginicum,Solanum dulcamara, Staphylea trifolia, Verbena stricta
Natureserve Conservation Status – G5-Secure

 

Bombus griseocollis - Brown-belted Bumble Bee (7)


Geographic Distribution – Quebec and Maine to Florida, and widely distributed in the west except the southwest
Habitat – Broad, including urban parks.
Size – 21-23mm
Identification – all black face.  The thorax  is covered with thick, yellowish-tan hair.  The first abdominal segment is the same color, but the second segment is more of a light brown color, hence the name “brown-belted.”  The remainder of the abdomen is black.  The wings are clear brown.  The legs are black.
Plants Commonly Visited – Juncus americana, Asclepias ssp, Bidens aristosa, Cirsium vulgare, Echinacea purpurea, Helianthus annuus, Liatris pycnostachya, Ratibida pinnata, Rudbeckia triloba, Chamaecrista fasciculate, Dalea spp., Melilotus alba, Orbexilum onobrychis, Trifolium pretense, Dicentra spp., Frasera caroliniensis,Aesculus hippocastanum, Hydrangea arborescens, Hydrophyllum spp., Hypericum spp., Agastache nepetoides, Blephilia hirsute, Monarda spp., Nepeta cataria, Pycnanthemum tenuifolium, Teucrium canadense, Abutilon theophrastii, Napaea dioica, Schrankia nuttallii, Polemonium reptans, Delphinium tricorne, Malus coronaria, Rosa setigera, Cephalanthus occidentalis, Linaria vulgaris, Pedicularis caanadensis, Penstemon digitalis, Veronicastrum virginicum
Natureserve Conservation Status – G5-Secure

 

Apis mellifera – European honey bee (9)

Geographic Distribution – Worldwide. Native to Europe, western Asia, and Africa.
Habitat – Nests in hollow trees or man-made structures.
Size – 1-2 cm
Identification – red/brown with black bands and orange yellow rings on abdomen.
Plants Commonly Visited – Justicia americana, Acer spp., Amaranthus spinosus, Rhus spp., Erigenia bulbosa, Heracleum maximum, Asclepias spp., Ageratina altissima, Ambrosia trifida, Aster spp., Bidens spp., Boltonia asterioides, Doellingeria umbellate, Echinacea purpurea, Eupatoriadelphus purpureus, Eupatorium spp., Euthamia graminifolia, Helianthus spp., Krigia biflora, Lactuca floridana, Liatris pycnostachya, Rudbeckia laciniata, Silphium spp., Solidago spp., Taraxacum officinale, Verbesina spp., Vernonia missurica, Impatiens capensis, Arabis shortii, Capsella bursa-pastoris, Dentaria laciniata, Rorippa teres, Opuntia humifusa, Chamaecrista fasciculate, Gleditsia triacanthos, Diervilla lonicera, Sambucus caanadensis, Symphoricarpos orbiculatus, Viburnum lentago, Cerastium nutans, Tradescentia ohiensis, Cornus spp., Cucurbita pepo, Sicyos angulatus, Diospyros virginiana, Andromeda glaucophylla, Chamaedaphne calyculata, Vaccinium spp., Cercis Canadensis, Dalea purpurea, Melilotus spp., Orbexilum onobrychis, Trifolium spp., Dicentra cucullatia, Frasera caroliniensis, Ribes missouriense, Hydrophyllum appendiculatum, Polemonium reptans, Agastache spp., Blephilia spp., Glechoma hederacea, Lycopus americanus, Monarda spp., Nepeta cataria, Pycnanthemum spp., Teucrium canadense, Allium cernuum, Camassia scilloides, Erythronium albidum, Lythrum alatum, Malva neglecta, Nelumbo lutea, Fraxinus americanus, Oenothera biennis, Sanguinaria Canadensis, Claytonia virginica, Enemion biternatum, Hepatica acutiloba, Amelanchier arborea, Crataegus spp., Filipendula rubra, Malus coronaria, Prunus spp., Rosa setigera, Rubus spp., Spiraea alba, Cephalanthus occidentalis, Ptelea trifoliate, Zanthoxylum americanum, Populus spp., Salix spp., Agalinis tenifolia, Aureolaria pedicularia, Collinsia verna, Scrophularia marilandica, Veronicastrum virginicum, Datura stramonium, Staphylea trifolia, Tilia americana, Ulmus spp., Verbena spp.
Natureserve Conservation Status – not yet ranked




THE MONARCH HIGHWAY PARTNERSHIPS

The I-35 corridor follows Interstate 35 through six states from Minnesota south to Texas, following the central flyway of monarch migration. In 2016, these states signed a memorandum of understanding that informally named I-35 the “Monarch Highway” and agreed to implement coordinated management practices along the corridor that benefit monarchs and other pollinators.
http://downloads.transportation.org/Monarch_Highway_MOU_052616.pdf
http://www.iowadot.gov/index.html#/services
http://www.ksdot.org/
http://www.dot.state.mn.us/
http://www.modot.org/
https://ok.gov/odot/
https://www.txdot.gov/

 

 

RESOURCES

http://www.pollinator.org/monarchs.htm
http://monarchwatch.org/highway
http://monarchwatch.org/blog/2015/12/01/creating-a-monarch-highway/
http://monarchjointventure.org/resources/faq/monarch-highway
http://www.wildflower.org/
http://www.illinoiswildflowers.info/
http://www.natureserve.org/
http://www.butterfliesandmoths.org/
http://bugguide.net/node/view/15740
http://animaldiversity.org/
http://www.fnanaturesearch.org/
https://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/pollinators/Monarch_Butterfly/
http://www.nwf.org/Wildlife/Wildlife-Library/Invertebrates/Monarch-Butterfly.aspx


 

CREDITS

Science Advisors

Wendy Caldwell is Program Coordinator  at the Monarch Joint Venture out of the University of Minnesota. Through this program she engages with land managers, conservation organizations, educators, citizen scientists and the general public to promote monarch conservation, monitoring, and education. Wendy serves on the Steering Committee and Monarch Task Force of the North American Pollinator Protection Campaign.

Gary Krupnick is the head of the Plant Conservation Unit in the Department of Botany, National Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. His research examines how data from herbarium specimens can be used in assessing the conservation status of plant species. Gary serves on the Steering Committee of the North American Pollinator Protection Campaign.

Orley R. "Chip" Taylor is the Founder and Director of Monarch Watch and a Professor Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS. Monarch Watch is an outreach program focused on education, research and conservation relative to monarch butterflies. Chip serves on the Steering Committee of the North American Pollinator Protection Campaign.

Photo Credits


Plant and pollinator specimen images courtesy of the U.S. National Herbarium, U.S. National Entomological Collection, and USGS Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab:
http://collections.nmnh.si.edu/search/botany/
http://collections.nmnh.si.edu/search/ento/
https://www.flickr.com/photos/usgsbiml/

 

ABOUT THE ARTIST - Stephanie Law


Stephanie Law is an Oakland based artist. She works primarily in watercolor, occasionally delving into mixed media, and her fantastical imagery has always shown a strong influence and inspiration from the natural elements of her Californian surroundings. She is a member of the Northern California Society of Botanical Artists chapter of American Society of Botanical Artists (ASBA), and much of her subject matter comes from explorations of the regional parks, as well as the collections of the UC Berkeley Botanical Gardens. Her fantastic realism artwork explores themes of boundaries, growth and decay, natural wonder, and has exhibited in galleries in San Francisco, Seattle, New York, Los Angeles. Her botanical work has been shown in galleries, botanical gardens, is part of the Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation’s permanent collection. She is author to a series of watercolor technique books entitled “Dreamscapes”.


Process:
The starting point for the poster was the idea for it to highlight the path of the monarchs' migration along a map draw in a sepia-toned vintage style. Contrasting against this, I wanted to have brightly colored plant and insect illustration callouts, worked into a drawn framework, and the swarm of butterflies emerging from this into the viewer's space.

Once my concept was approved, I began gathering reference imagery for plant and insect components. I was fortunate enough to be able to catch sight of a West coast migration of monarch butterflies last year as they were passing through and roosting in the eucalyptus trees at The Aquatic Park in Berkeley, CA. At the time, armed with a telephoto lens, I took hundreds of photos of the butterflies, with the hope of using the images as reference for some future painting. It was with delight when I found out the theme for the 2017 poster, and that my photos could indeed be put to use.

In addition, I had to research the many plants that would be featured in the poster. The P2 team provided me with lists of species that would be relevant, and from there I looked into the months of blooming for those plants. The final selections that were used in the poster's callouts were a result of what season the plant bloomed in, how many states (preferably all 6) it was found in, whether it was native in those states, and then finally, a purely artistic decision made based on the most aesthetic color and shapes to complement the other elements that were already in place on the poster.


As a botanical artist, when possible, I prefer to work from living specimens. Sometimes I go to garden centers and purchase plants to use as models, but when working with a deadline and the seasons are not aligning for all the plants to be flowering, I have to work from photos as well. I took many trips to my local botanical garden - The University of California Botanical Garden at Berkeley to take notes on plants, to match my watercolor mixtures to the correct tones, and to take dozens of photos. Online herbarium specimen records from many educational institutions also are useful for seeing how a plant is structured when I don't have the luxury of being able to see a live plant. And as well, I have the resources of my past experiences as a botanical illustrator. Several of the plants I incorporated into the poster were subjects of previous paintings of mine, and so I already had a very good understanding of those plants, as well as notes on color mixtures, and plenty of past reference photos.

I approached each of the callout bubbles separately, and the flight of monarch butterflies. I painted these elements with traditional watercolor techniques, painting with Daniel Smith paints on Fabriano Artistico hot press watercolor paper.


When I had finished with all those plant and insect components, I scanned them, and began doing the digital work of creating the linework frame and the map. I drew these digital elements with the intent of creating a pen-and-ink look and feel. It was mostly done by drawing with a pressure sensitive stylus on a tablet, in black and white, and then layering colors over it to give it a printmaking screened-look.


Other Artists
http://www.nrenier.com
http://www.judithkarenartist.com
http://www.lindscience.com
http://www.mollymaysart.com