Yesterday as I walked outside the building where I work, a single monarch butterfly was working its way up wind across the parking lot, heading South. The day before in the afternoon a single monarch butterfly was working its way south, slowly flapping up and over my house, also headed south. Was it always like this? ( It was not!)
Contrast that with an experience I had when I was a child: It was mid-September, possibly around 1960, and I was riding my bike down the road near our house in SE Michigan when I suddenly realized the air around me was full of monarch butterflies. There was one every six feet or so, filling the air so high up I couldn’t see them anymore and extending as far as I could see to the East or West. There were many millions of them , all steadily, slowly streaming south.
They say the loss of the Monarchs is a result of herbicides, loss of natural lands, and the eradication of milkweed, their primary food source. I suspect there are causes beyond that, but accept that they all point back at us, the humans overrunning the planet. I feel a deep sense of sadness at the loss of the Monarch migration as it was 50 years ago. The few butterflies I’ve seen migrating in recent years suggest the migration may soon be a thing of the past.
What can we do? One of my neighbors has a dozen milkweed plants growing in his front yard. That’s a start, but I doubt it will do much good. The very scientific work the government should be doing to protect us from ecological disaster is frequently blocked or de-funded at the direction of corporations focused only on short term profit, who see endangered species and ecological issues as problems they can ignore as long as possible while they collect as much money as possible. Also, ask your legislators to fund the research with the biggest implications for our long term survival on Earth, regardless who doesn’t like us doing that. .
Thanks for reading — Tim