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by Ray Zimmerman
Orange is a cave salamander with black spots, curled around a damp rock, bulging eyes watching for lurking predators,
or tiny insect prey. Hidden away in remnant undisturbed caves, they seek shelter as habitat vanishes.
Orange is a milkweed flower waiting for a pollinator, waiting to grow into a pod unzipped by turgid water forces,
spreading silk parachutes on the wind, each seed on the end of fluff, ready to grow.
Orange and black is a Monarch Butterfly sipping nectar from orange milkweed flowers. Its caterpillars will feed on
milkweed leaves, take up a poison which causes predators to spit them out or die eating them. Cardiac glucosides
they are called.
Orange is a truck spraying roundup or other herbicides, perhaps even agent orange, 2,4,D in chemical terms. It was
sprayed on Vietnamese jungles to defeat people called unfriendlies and today is considered for agricultural use where it
will kill milkweed with orange flowers, prevent it from competing with corn for soil nutrients. The death of Monarch
Butterflies is an unfortunate side effect, an example of collateral damage. Already, they are perishing.
International orange is the color of a fungus that grows on scorched soil after forest fires and range fires. Will it
witness the dying gasp of the last Monarch Butterfly, the desiccation of cave salamanders?