The Butterfly at Chautauqua. Are Monarchs Going Extinct?

Monarch butterfly bush Madison IndianaI didn’t see my first Monarch this year until September 28th, at the Chautauqua Festival in Madison, Indiana. On our trips home this summer from Kurt’s work I had been watching the caterpillars. (I call them Pittsburgh-pillars, because of their black and yellow coloring.) I didn’t follow-up to see how many cocoons I could find or butterflies. (It’s been a busy year.)

I was happy to see this beautiful female on a butterfly bush near the courthouse.

monarch butterfly bush ChautauquaI thought our neighbor was a bit kooky, because she’s always “rescuing” the monarch caterpillars from the plants she finds them on and putting them in a box to cocoon and hatch. She said (and I’ve seen) they are preyed upon by a certain type of wasp. I thought “Yeah, okay, but that’s nature. That’s the life cycle. Everything is prey and everything is predator for something else. It’s not our job to interfere.”

But, it turns out, we have already interfered. Not intentionally, of course, but humans have removed the best habitats of the monarch, particularly along their migration route from Canada to Mexico. And their breeding and wintering sites are in danger. One article I read even discussed the idea of extinction.

Could the monarch really go extinct?

Monarch butterfly bush Madison IndianaMaybe I’m the last dumb girl on the planet to know this, but I’m curious how many of you already know how rapidly the monarch butterfly population is decreasing?

Well, when I was looking into it, I found a website where we can be citizen scientists and help them study monarchs – with a cell phone APP even! It seems like an easy thing to volunteer with, and I thought I would share it with all of you.

Just when I think my heart is full with wanting to save the dolphins and whales and polar bears and koalas, here is something tangible, local, part of my life, and I’m watching it disappear? Yeah, my heart is apparently not already full if it can keep breaking.

Monarch butterfly bush Madison IndianaMy favorite butterfly is the eastern tiger swallowtail, but I don’t want to see any kinds of butterfly decline or be decimated. If there’s one metaphorical being in the world, isn’t it the butterfly?

Do you have a favorite butterfly? Are you as interesting as my neighbor by cocooning monarch caterpillars? Do you think there’s something more metaphorical than a butterfly? I’d love to know what you know, readers.

Love, Sasquatch

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