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Lower Mississippi River Dispatch
"Voice of the Lower Mississippi"
October 25, 2019 ~ LMRD 747

Migrations of Kings and Queens
(and the dragons they encounter)

(Watercolor-John Ruskey)

One of the World's Greatest Migrations

Monarch Butterflies have been congregating along the mouth of the Mississippi, and the shores of the Gulf of Mexico, readying themselves for one of the earth's greatest and most amazing migrations...

(Ocean Springs)

One that requires several generations to complete...

(Weeks Bayou)

Currently the journey is taking place from staging grounds along the marshes and beaches around the mouth of the Mississippi River, its distributary, the Atchafalaya, the Mississippi Sound, and elsewhere along the Gulf Coast, millions of monarch butterflies are congregating and refueling for the long flight around the perimeter and maybe across the open waters of the Gulf... with the ultimate goal to the Sacred Oyamel Fir Forests of South-Central Mexico...

(The Oyamel forests of Mexico are remnants of boreal forests that advanced south with periods of glaciation. When the glaciers retreated, they were left as high elevation survivors, existing as isolated islands at 7,800 – 11,700 feet)

Keep reading below for full report: the flight patterns and the dangers (including dragons and hissing cars)... the kaleidoscope of orange and black... and the unfortunate carnage along the way....

(Brickyard Bayou)

~~~Sharing a monarch-butterfly friendly birthday wish:~~~

Who said you need a car to celebrate? 40 miles on 40 different methods of non-motorized travel!

Who said you need a car to celebrate? Sending Happy Birthday wishes down the river, and across the pond, to my brother Dave Cornthwaite who's turning 40 today, and will be transporting himself 40 miles in celebration of every year on 40 different methods of non-motorized travel! Whoo-whoop and paddle's up from the Mighty Quapaws! We love you brother! (We also love not using the internal combustion engine; we do the same in our canoes, kayaks and paddleboards!)

*Go join the fun with Dave & Emma!
*Watch live videos and updates on Event Page
*And say "Yes!" to the Yes Bus!

~~~Bikes (and Canoes) don't kill Butterflies!~~~

The Migration Continues:

(Pass Christian)

The Monarchs seem to love Goldenrod, which is blooming in profusion along the Mississippi Gulf Coast

(Deer Island)

Every day for the past week monarchs have been congregating by the thousands, perhaps millions, on the late-fall flowering plants, especially the goldenrod...

(Weeks Bayou Nature Trail)

Goldenrod is a perennial plant that is well-known for its healing properties. This wild edible is a plant that reproduces through its roots, bulbs, stems and by its seed. Goldenrod does not cause seasonal allergies as many tend to believe. No one is, no one can be, allergic to Goldenrod pollen. Why? For starters, it has virtually none and it is pollinated by insects. Only wind-pollinated plants such as Ragweed (which blooms at the same time as Goldenrod) can cause allergic reactions.Currently, there are actually 140 varieties of Goldenrod; therefore it has a unique adeptness in crossbreeding with other plants. All varieties of Goldenrod all are equally nutritious and boast many health benefits. Goldenrod can be used fresh or as a dried herb to make tea (although it is bitter), or as a fluid extract, tincture, or in capsules. Nebraska declared a type of Goldenrod (Soldiago gigantea) the state flower in 1895. (from edible wild food)

(Davis Bayou)

I have been seeing other butterflies, such as the Gulf Frittilary....

(Weeks Bayou)

And other winged insects, such as the Green Darner Dragonfly... I was surprised to witness one Dragonfly captured a Monarch and fly off...

(Weeks Bayou)

Is the Green Darner Dragonfly immune to the Monarch's toxicity? I cannot say, it disappeared with the monarch into the thick brush...

(Biloxi Beachfront)

...Dead Monarchs collected off highway...

After migrating thousands of miles to get to the Gulf, the traffic on US 90 created a lethal gateway to the open water beyond

(Long Beach)

Every day this past week I have been finding piles of Monarchs along the side of the Beach Highway... other carnage includes Fritallaries, Buckeyes, and Dragonflies... but the vast majority of dead bodies are the Monarchs...

(Watercolor - John Ruskey) Courthouse Beach

John James Audubon famously shot birds to use as subjects of his paintings... But I find mine on the side of the highway... I am not boasting, this is a tragedy...

(Teagarden Beach)

With Tropical Storm Nestor festering last week across the Gulf, all Monarchs seemed to be flying towards the live oak uplands from off the open water... Perhaps retreating because they sense impending bad weather over the horizon...

Some days they seem to be flying out over the Gulf, headed south...

But most days the majority seem be flying westward down the beaches, with the direction of the sun, arcing over the Birdsfoot Delta of the Mississippi River and onwards down along the Gulf Coast, through Louisiana, Texas, and into Mexico...

(Brickyard Bayou)

The Closer you look the more you see...

(Brickyard Bayou)

Amazing patterns and colors...

(Brickyard Bayou) soft and sensuous.... and striking all at the same time...

(Brickyard Bayou)

Their journey is exposed and tender, all predators seem to leave them alone, the milkweed toxicity seems to be working, (except for maybe a dragonfly).... too bad that same protection is useless against the internal combustion engine...

(St. Peter's by the Sea)

...sadly our autos and trucks, buses and motorcycles are killing tens or hundred of thousands of innocent monarchs along the highways of the Gulf Coast... just for the sake of going from point A to point B...

(Dave Cornthwaite on the Murray River)

...if only more of us were doing like Dave Cornthwaite, who has travelled the world in dozens of different vehicles (bikes, trikes, skateboards, paddleboards, etc) and yet has never learned to drive a car... none of his earth-friendly modes of transportation pose a threat to sensitive migrations like that of the monarch... BTW: today is 40th Dave's BD and he is celebrating on 40 different modes of non-motorized transportation! good journeys friends, wherever the currents of air, or the currents of water take you!

(Pop's Ferry Park)

...May you stay in air currents above mankind's dragon death vehicles...

(Biloxi Back Bay)

...we hope to see you next year!

...and your next generation, and the generations to follow...

(St. Peter's by the Sea)

Bon Voyage!

(St. Peter's by the Sea)

bon voyage friends!



The Lower Mississippi River Dispatch "Voice of the Lower Mississippi River" is published by the Quapaw Canoe Company. Photos and writing by John Ruskey, Mark River and others. Please write for re-publishing. Feel free to share with friends or family, but also credit appropriately. Go to and click on "Quapaw Dispatch" for viewing back issues of the LMRD.


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