Garden life with monarch butterflies could serve as a movie set


Lights, cameras, action-rom-com. My milkweed garden has it all. Corpses have piled up, murder suspects lurk around every leaf, the mob runs an illegal farm, and a beautiful, prominent woman is on a secret mission. And, the sex happens. Everywhere. In full view.

If we were talking about people, the police wouldn’t be able to track all of this.

Imagine ‘The Lost City’, ‘Mr. and Mrs. Smith’, ‘Goodfellas’, ‘Thelma and Louise’ and ‘Lethal Weapon’. With bugs in the main roles. You have an R-rated summer blockbuster in a 5 square foot garden in the non-fictional Monarch City.

Come to think of it, the police still can’t keep up.

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Our film opens with Joe Pescibeetle muttering “okay, okay, okay” wading on his back in an empty plastic container under a brown-eyed susan. Officer Waters springs into action to rescue Joe when his pals Mel Gibsonite and Danny Clover are nowhere to be found.

Using distraction as a cover, Angelina Jolibutter glides over the weathered picket fence and comes to a halt, fluttering on a rosebush.

The city’s namesake butterfly is on a secret mission. In a death-defying stunt repeated over and over again, she hangs upside down from a milkweed leaf and places an egg on the underside. She must lay as many eggs as possible to ensure the survival of the next generation.

Meanwhile, Constable Waters is back at the dispatch station when an anonymous caller complains, “The ladybugs are here. Still. Why can’t you…” Waters cuts off the call and heads for the door. She knows exactly what she’s going to find.

Ladybugs Channing Tatummmmm and Sandra Bull-ooh-la-la are causing a stir in Monarch City.

Channing Tatummmmm and Sandra Bull-ooh-la-la have once again forgotten that they are no longer in a lost city and are engaged in an afternoon of fun. Through the leaves and stems of not one, but two milkweed plants. Circus music accompanies the scene, in which Sandra, carrying Channing on her back the whole time, lights up a penny after every several footsteps.

But, the dashing duo drop Waters when his cellphone explodes. Now it’s the striped candy leafhoppers atop a small milkweed where everyone in Monarch City can see them. And they’ve been there for an hour.

On his way, Waters comes across the corpses of a fly, a tiny brown caterpillar fixed in the death loop, and several aphids, all hanging from silken threads above a pile of now unidentifiable victims.

The suspect? Michael Impale Rioli (she/her/her), known as House Spider and renowned for having a side hustle with the local crowd.

But that must wait.

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Candy-striped leafhoppers Gina Davisilly and Brad Pitthopper are anything but shy.

Cut to candy strippers Gina Davisilly and Brad Pitthopper doing the butt deed. The leafhopper in Davisilly’s crime, Susan Sarangun, is two leaves down and left, plotting their next move. She has no idea that Pitthopper is about to run away with the three meals of sap they have left.

Despite the scandal, Waters can’t bring himself to stop the hoppers. They are so cute. She’s relieved when someone tweets a photo showing half a dozen earwigs stacked between new leaves atop a milkweed across town.

The press came first, and Waters was to release what is now an action statement: “The investigation is ongoing. All we can say now is that it’s possible that sex is involved.

Eyebrows are raised when someone tweets this photo.  What do earwigs do?

On the way home, Waters notices that an ant is displayed on nearly every milkweed leaf in town. They are rumored to be the foot soldiers of mob bosses Robert Dinero and Ray Liottasaw. But, what are they running?

It comes to mind. Aphids.

The mayor wanted to limit the number of aphids allowed to live here. So the city council passed an ordinance to prevent the milkweed from being invaded.

In a classic crowd movement, the ants pushed their operations mostly under the leaf. The ants “herd” the aphids, protecting them in exchange for the sweet liquid they produce.

We could talk about extortion, bribes, corruption, aphid trafficking.

It’s getting dark. Waters decides to take it back tomorrow.

As the sun sets over Monarch City, a soft brown butterfly with yellow markings can be seen resting flat against the underside of a leaf. And, dispatch receives a report that flashes of light are coming from the garden. What do you know ? It’s Agent Waters wielding an iPhone and whispering, “A hay clover worm.” Sweet.”

A cloverworm moth rests on the underside of a milkweed leaf in Monarch City.

Cut at sunrise. There is a loud chew from a milkweed on the east side of town. Some of the sheets have irregular half-moon cutouts. Out of the corner of his eye, Waters sees tiny antennae waving above bits of white, yellow, and black. Can it be? Yes!

These rogue monarch caterpillars Mel Gibsonite and Danny Clover are snacking. The plaintive moan of their parents? “We don’t know what to do with them. They eat us out of the house and out of the house, wake up the neighbors, and… did you see all the poop? It’s everywhere. All they do is eat and poop.

Agent Waters pings the dispatcher: “Send a social worker.”

Angelina Jolibutter glides over the weathered picket fence and comes to rest on the only rose bush in Monarch City.

—Wendall Waters is anxious to know if Angelina Jolibutter has accomplished her mission. In the meantime, she has taken Mel Gibsonite and Danny Clover into custody. Head over to the Wendall in the Wild Facebook page to see what these two scammers are up to.


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