Two years ago, a strange phenomenon happened in my hometown where the entire town was covered in thousands of beautiful Monarch butterflies. I remember being at the local pool and filming a tree that was covered in butterflies like flowers with moving petals. It felt magical swimming in the water surrounded by these fairy-like creatures! Upon asking an elder in town what had caused so many butterflies to come to town, he wasn’t sure and said he had never seen such an occurrence in his lifetime! This painting is my tribute to that memory and is based upon a photo taken by my friend Karina Work.
The Monarch Butterfly (Danaus plexippus) is found worldwide – North America, Spain, New Zealand, Pacific Islands, as well as Australia. It is an iconic pollinator, easily recognised by its black, orange and white pattern, and has a wingspan of between 8.9 and 10.2 cm. During 25 days it transitions through four life cycle stages; egg, larva, pupa, adult. An egg is usually laid singly on the underside of a leaf, while a female may lay over 1,000 eggs. The larva then grows through five stages, until it becomes a 4.5 cm long caterpillar. To prepare for the chrysalis stage, it spins a silk pad on a downward-facing horizontal surface in a safe place, where the mature butterfly forms inside over 8 to 15 days. When the adult emerges it hangs upside down for several hours while pumping fluid and air into its wings. Adults typically live for 2 to 5 weeks.
The Pincushion Hakea (Hakea laurina) is endemic to a region between Narrogin and Esperance in Western Australia.