It was a disappointing weekend of Monarch tagging. Again.
This weekend was a repeat of last–with only one Monarch butterfly spotted, none tagged. I’m betting Monarchs migrated further west. Or more likely, this year’s crop was extremely thin. I don’t foresee more tagging weekends this fall. It’s over.
And honestly, we did not see the masses enjoyed in recent years. Sightings of 10 – 20 have replaced masses of 100-200.
According to the Journey North website, Monarchs crossed the border into Mexico this week. That suggests they have passed the Texas funnel. We may still see singles and strays, but the “massive” migration–a shadow of its former self–has passed.
From Nuevo Leon: “Today, Monarchs were spotted for miles over three hours in some parts of Monterrey this morning,” wrote Rocio Treviño of Mexico’s Monarch tracking project, Correo Real, on October 23. Similar bulletins were cited for Coahuila and Tamaulipas.
Tagged Monarch, raised at home. Many of the Monarchs we tagged this year we raised ourselves. Photo by Monika Maeckle
The butterflies have not arrived at their ancestral roosts in the mountains of Michoacán. On Thursday, Estela Romero, the Journey North correspondent on the ground in Michoacán, reported:
“Our graph recording Monarchs’ arrival this week, filled in inside our VW due to the intense rain: Z E R O on October 24.”
It’s difficult to be optimistic about the future of the Monarch migration. Every obstacle has been thrown in its path. Habitat destruction in the flyway, the breeding grounds and the roosting sites. Drought and climate change messing with the butterflies’ inherent cycles. Aerial spraying of pesticides and the use of herbicide tolerant crops. Continued illegal logging in Mexico.
The one good note is that people are paying attention. We are planting milkweed. Monarch butterfly festivals are hatching across the hemisphere. More people are raising butterflies at home.
Last fall, a 3-D IMAX movie, “Flight of the Butterflies” was released, sharing the story of the Monarch migration to rave reviews and multiple awards. And scientist-turned-eloquent-author Barbara Kingsolver‘s latest novel, “Flight Behavior,” used Monarch butterflies to tackle the complex subject of climate change.
Happy Monarch butterfly chrysalises. We fostered many Monarchs from wild eggs and caterpillars this year. Photo by Monika Maeckle
Are Monarch butterflies the panda bears of climate change? The beloved creatures hold universal appeal. They don’t sting or bite. They are beautiful and accessible. They migrate across three countries, serving as a living metaphor for our innate interconnectedness.
Pandas are endangered, Monarchs are not. But many would argue that the Monarch migration is rushing toward a dangerous path of extinction.
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