A newly emerged 3-winged butterfly sips nectar from a tropical milkweed plant. She beat the odds and survived the parasite that destroyed her hind wing -- a wounded warrior and beautiful creature.
Since the pandemic, I have been planting milkweed in the back yard, and after learning of how few caterpillars actually made it into butterflyhood, we began fostering caterpillars by bringing them indoors and hand-rearing them. This little caterpillar showed signs of being infected, but made it into a chrysalis...then made it to emergence... Xena, as she was named, had a shriveled wing that did not unfurl, but the rest of her was beautiful -- and she wanted to live. She jumped onto the milkweed blossom and began to feed.
I was inspired by her feisty spirit and created this collage with ephemera from Lemon Grove and San Diego, including tourist literature, pages from local phone books, local foreign language newspapers, textbooks from SDSU students among other things.
Xena was given to a local butterfly expert who is writing a book on Monarch butterflies and their obstacles where she is helping enhance scientific understanding of these beautiful and vulnerable creatures.
A portion of the sales of the product goes to the Monarch Joint Venture, an organization dedicated to protect monarchs and their migration by collaborating with partners to deliver habitat conservation, education, and science across the United States.