RANDOM ACT OF METAPHOR
Survival by Deception in the Milkweed Fields
Hmmm, is there a glimpse into the inner workings of nature in those orange beauties cavorting in the Milkweed fields?
Monarch butterflies have arrived, in my stomping grounds here in southern Ontario, after their 2,500 mile migration from the mountainsides of the Reserva de la Biosfera Mariposa Monarca (Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve) in Mexico. In my mind, it is not full blown summer until I see the stunning flashes of orange and black fluttering past me.
But Monarch butterflies are not always what they seem to be. If you are able to take a photograph of one, examine the photograph closely. Do you see a curving black line across the hind wings? Monarchs do not have that line.
(Visit the original version of this post using the following link to see a photograph of mating Viceroys http://tinyurl.com/l2zmefe )
What you are looking at is a Viceroy butterfly. Viceroys, members of the Admiral butterfly family, have evolved to mimic the appearance of Monarchs. Why would this evolutionary adaptation have occurred?
Monarchs feed on the toxic milky substance in Milkweed plants and are able to metabolize it. But it makes them toxic to their predators affording them protection from predation. By evolving to imitate Monarchs, Viceroys gain this same protection without having to make the epic migration that Monarchs do.
I am quite partial to Viceroys. Their unique survival-by-deception strategy is a random act of metaphor for the intricate relationships woven into the fabric of nature.
So, the next time you see a Monarch butterfly, take a closer look. There may be deception afoot.
~ Michael Robert Dyet is the author of “Until the Deep Water Stills – An Internet-enhanced Novel” – double winner in the Reader Views Literary Awards 2009. Visit Michael’s website at www.mdyetmetaphor.comor the novel online companion at www.mdyetmetaphor.com/blog.
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