Mexican Sunflowers for Breakfast

These are fine times indeed for the monarch butterflies. I've been seeing a few here and there; and on this morning, I spotted this beauty near the Sundial at the Arboretum. You can't tell it from this side view, but when I got a full dorsal view, I saw the two dark spots that confirm that it's a male.

The gorgeous orange flowers that you see in this photo are Mexican sunflowers, or Tithonia - I'm not sure exactly what variety, but they are quite tall. The sprinklers had been running, but conveniently they shut off just before I got there with my camera. As a result, the surface of the flowers was slick and shiny, which was very cool for picture taking.

There are many pollinators who go wanting this time of year, as summer's blooms begin to fade. This plant, Tithonia, is a wonderful late-season food source for butterflies, bumblebees, and even hummingbirds. Maybe next year, I must plant some in my own yard.

As I snapped some photos, at least two hummingbirds were playing above my head, waiting for me to leave this stand of flowers so they could also partake. Almost every bloom had a bumblebee on it (some of them rather damp and scraggly looking from the sprinklers); some even had two!

This is a mighty fine monarch indeed. However, my song choice relates to the flower it is nectaring on: the vibrant orange Mexican sunflower. The song is a fun early 80s tune (some might go so far as to call it a one-hit wonder): Wall of Voodoo, with Mexican Radio.

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