Most years, in midsummer, I’m finding many Monarch Butterfly eggs on my milkweed. I bring them inside to let them hatch, grow into fat caterpillars, form chrysalises and finally transform into butterflies. I’m a piker in this endeavor. There are many Monarch nurturers more dedicated than I. But this summer is different. There are no monarchs! They have not returned to New Jersey after wintering in Mexico.
I’ve checked with Trina, our local “Butterfly Lady.” She says people are still waiting. Last year the butterflies arrived early –in June. Now, at July’s end, I am the lucky one. Two weeks ago I found two monarch eggs. Others have found none. Now I have two chrysalises. Hopefully their metamorphosis into butterflies will be successful.
Monarch Watch, http://www.monarchwatch.org, reports the late arrival of the butterflies to Kansas and they worry that there will be little time for the usual four generations before it’s time for them to return to their winter quarters. They say that fewer –acres fewer—arrived last fall in Mexico. They attribute the reduced numbers to wet weather. And a very wet and chilly June may have delayed their return to New Jersey. But we’ve had a warm (too warm) July. Where are they?
Environmentalists have long worried that the numbers of pollinators are greatly reduced. That’s one reason for breeding monarchs; in the wild, 98% of them don’t make it. Some think pesticides are killing them off –as well as genetically engineers crops which have a pesticide incorporated into their DNA. Even the pollen of those plants contains the pesticide!
To quote Trina Paulus’ book , Hope for the Flowers, “Without butterflies the world will soon have few flowers.” There are many fewer bees too. Without them and the butterflies, there will also soon be no food crops. Isn’t it time to examine our use of pesticides and pay attention to the interactions within nature?