Sunday, November 24, 2013

Monarch Decline

A feature in the New York Times this morning brings news of the belated arrival of the migrating Monarch butterfly in Mexico. The Monarchs always arrive on November 1, a day celebrated in Mexico as the Day of the Dead. This year they were a week late. Both that Day of the Dead (link) and the dramatic decline in Monarch population (link) have been noted on this blog before. The Times story says that last year 60 million monarchs arrived in Mexico—a greatly diminished display of what the Mexicans think of as the souls of the dead. This year just a shade fewer than 3 million reached Mexico. The cause for this decline is summarized in my second link: it is the use of herbicides which devastates the milkweed.

As behooves people with our convictions, we have a very long view of the future and therefore expect that “this too shall pass.” There are balances in Nature that Long Time corrects even when the Near Term visits its mindless destruction on the environment. But I won’t be around when our version of the milkweed suddenly disappears and human numbers begin to collapse dramatically. At the end, I hope, the few millions left of us will still see a few million Monarchs once more migrating across the continents for landfall on the Day of the Dead. 


  1. Thanks for that, Brandon. Interesting -- especially the personal take.

  2. I spent part of elementary and middle school in New Mexico, and we would always get a lot of Monarch butterflies. We didn't have milkweed, only dill, so the Monarchs, unlike some of the other butterflies, never stopped and stayed, but there were still enough passing through that you could see a large number every day during the migration season.


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