Robert Michael Pyle’s Chasing Monarchs (this morning’s breakfast read has me on page 91) tells his overland route, as he followed Monarchs on the west coast (US). That journey began in British Columbia, and he’s on his way south, following the Yakima, Columbia and other rivers, following the Monarchs as they leave their summer homes and work their way south to . . . Even then, in the late 1990’s, the numbers of Monarchs in Washington and Oregon was way down.
We have been sharing our dread, that the Monarch population on the east coast (we get quite a few visitors from 83 other countries) may or may not recover. That Monarchs in Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut and north will not be seen every 10 minutes in May through September. We worry that we may not see a single monarch on a windless, blue-skied day in July. We will look at our roadside milkweed, at the orange butterfly weed in our fields, even at the cultivated milkweeds that we are being urged to plant in our perennial beds and grow increasingly suspect of them. Have they succumbed somehow to pollution, pollution internally, pollution that came from the chemical tinkering that the giant chemical combines have been creating, creating to increase the crop yields on those humongous corporate farms out there.
Me? I’m still skeptical. I want to believe that those monarchs in those giant cedars in Mexico will surprise us again, that all this is cyclical, and that 2014 will be a good year for Danaus plexippus. But, I too am concerned. iPhones, iPads, XBoxes, Clouds. With the constant tsunami of technology that we are in awe of, the flights of winged beauties from Mexico to Maine, from Toronto back to Mexico is sooo comforting. Part of me so wants things to take a breather, slowwww down some. The incredible flight of a monarch female, from Stockbridge, Massachusetts to Mexico gives me comfort, that much is and will remain familiar, even if mysterious.
So, when you work those trails this summer, and search out monarch chrysalises, like this gem-like one, will you find just one? Will you spot as many as 2? Because of your visual acuity, will you be the blessed one and find 3?