Born from an egg, the ravenous caterpillar clings to an earthbound plant that it must consume as its metamorphic journey continues. Satiated at last, it hangs upside down and spins a “silky cocoon or molts into a shiny chrysalis,” As if at the hands of a wise wizard, a most comely creature emerges —
The butterfly only knows
How it feels to have wings,
To kiss the petals of flowers
In such elegant flitterings.
Beautiful. Bringer of joy. Like a flower in flight. Butterflies inspire the poet, the artist, the musician.
So how is it that now headlines warn that these beauties are endangered? Are we not endeared enough to the butterfly to sustain their population? Why do my local headlines read,
Butterfly population at historic low at Pismo Beach Monarch Butterfly Grove?
Butterfly populations in Monarch Butterfly Grove in Pismo Beach have reached an all-time historic low this week with a total population of 2,000. In California, there has been an overall estimated decrease of 99.4 percent of monarch butterflies since the 1980s.
The answers include a butterfly’s natural enemies such as ants, wasps, birds, lizards, snakes, spiders, wildfires, extreme weather, and fungus. Butterflies, however, indicate that they have learned to work around the natural threats.
The human-made threats like habitat destruction, development, pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers, and invasive non native plants, are outside of a butterfly’s adaptability. This is where you and I must step in if we wish to continue the soulful joy of butterflies in the sky.
The Wildlife Society reported in January 2019, “Monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus), which have been steeply declining throughout their range, showed a significant increase in their overwintering areas in Mexico, a World Wildlife Fund survey shows. The WWF completed an annual survey of the butterflies and found that monarch colonies have more than doubled the area they’re found in compared to last year….Monarch numbers in the wintering range have reached their highest point since 2006-2007, the WWF said, but are still much lower than they were 20 years ago. The improved numbers come as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is deciding whether or not to list the species under the Endangered Species Act. It is expected to reach a decision in June.”
Good news for monarch butterflies. How it will play out in the long run remains questionable when considering the human-made threats.
Good folks aim for a rescue. Friends of mine have established monarch habitats and garden hatcheries. We’ve all planted milkweed in our gardens. But now we learn that the milkweed we’ve planted may well be adding to the monarch demise. Apparently it’s the wrong kind of milkweed at the wrong time of the year, in the wrong place. (I’ve simplified the data I’ve read about our planting of ‘’tropical milkweed,” a rather gorgeous plant.)
Well that’s just f-ing great! Now what?
I don’t have an answer other than learning what kind of milkweed I can put in my garden that will help feed the migrating monarchs, or any other pollinator in the neighborhood. And I care enough to purchase the proper seeds and plants to give away. My source is MonarchWatch.org. At the moment I can’t randomly purchase product to give away — you know, those stinky budgetary considerations.
So, my old retail experience has come into play and I’m putting my favorite butterfly photos on tote bags, selling them at a $7.50 profit which will enable me to purchase the proper milkweed for my local area and other regions. Locally, I’ll give away the plants.
It’s a small-time (make that teeny-tiny time) project run from the kitchen counter, a computer, and a supplier. There is no nonprofit affiliation — folks are just going to have to trust me.
The most gorgeous of totes I’ve found are rather pricey, but not only do they make my photos look fabulous, they are something you won’t mind carrying. The 16 x 16 100% polyester tote sells for $26.95, plus shipping. You can order through Spouse’s PayPal account, Riptide Pool and Spa Enterprises, or email me direct at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for your support and:
May the wings of the butterfly kiss the sun.
And find your shoulder to light on.
To bring you luck, happiness and riches.
Today, tomorrow and beyond.
—An Irish Blessing.
My Butterfly Collection.
Photos from hiking here and there.