Oil on Canvas, 60" x 48", 2020
Orchid: Psychopsis papilio
Native Range: Trinidad and Tobago, Panama, French Guiana, Surinam, Venezuela, Columbia, and Northern Brazil
Pollinator: Butterflies and Bees
Conservation Status: Not threatened
"Through mimicry or deceit, the seductive orchid beckons its pollinators with striking markings, shapes, and scents to entice. As I studied this species on a larger scale, I too became enchanted by a plant that appears more like an insect than a flower. The striking patterns and intricate geometries of this arboreal orchid resemble a landing pad, enticing insects to the target at the center of the flower’s reproductive system.
Psychopsis papilio commonly called the Butterfly Orchid is the inspiration for this painting. Remarkably large 6” flowers burst into yellow and orange exclamation points at the end of very long individual stems that flutter in the wind. Thought to be pollinated by a species of South American butterfly, the flowers resemble the female of the species, and the male butterflies effect pollination while attempting to mate with it. Flowers “hovering” well-above the foliage further enhances the butterfly mimicry.
Can you imagine a world without butterflies? These beautiful animals and other important insects are on a steep decline across the globe. In
California just this March 2020, the seasonal count of western monarch butterflies indicated their numbers were down 99% from 2019’s 86% decline, largely due to neonicotinoid pesticides like Round Up by Monsanto.
Absolutely essential pollinators, there were only 29,000 western monarchs counted this year in sharp contrast to nearly 10 million in the 1980s. Disturbing news for the birds and other animals that depend on them for food, like us humans, considering nearly 75% of our food crops are pollinated by butterflies.”