Wednesday, February 06, 2019

Could The Monarch Butterfly Be Making a Comeback?

I  remember wading ashore six years ago, at a place called Gibraltar Point on the Toronto Islands, and coming across an amazing sight.

Thousands of monarch butterflies clustered on a couple of trees getting ready to fly south across Lake Ontario.

What made it even more special, was that I had helped expand a milkweed patch nearby, and I thought this was my reward.

But then the next year I hardly saw a monarch anywhere.

Just a few solitary individuals preparing to make the long flight over the lake by themselves, or in the company of one or two others.

And the same thing happened every year since.  

So imagine how happy I was to see this. 

The number of monarch butterflies wintering in Mexico is at its largest in at least 10 years, raising hope for the colourful but endangered insect. 

Monarchs spread out across southern Canada and the United States in summer, but their descendants all return to a tiny patch of high-altitude fir forest in Mexico in the winter. 

This winter, the area is about six hectares, more than double the size of last year’s population.

Sadly, the little winged wonders are not home free. They are still in danger of going extinct, thanks to pesticides, habitat destruction, and the effects of climate change.

But you can do your part to help them, by demanding that farmers reduce their use of pesticides, and by planting more milkweed.

As well as other native plants with flowers the monarchs enjoy feeding on. Like the ones in this butterfly garden not far from where I live.

So you might be as lucky as I was, when I came ashore one balmy late summer afternoon, came across one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen.

And made this little video...

Hurry back summer.

And my beautiful little winged wonders...   


Jackie Blue said...

Trump is destroying that butterfly habitat on the US/Mexico border to build his stupid wall.

Times like these make me hope the "butterfly effect" would apply as it's most commonly understood: that a monarch migration to Mexico would trigger Mar-a-Lago sinking into the swamp.

the salamander said...

.. last year Simon we saw our fair share of Monarchs in our mid Toronto backyard and neighborhood. Strangely though we saw almost as many Swallowtails but few Mourning Cloak. Last year our backyard had few, and mostly stunted milkweed. The year before 125 plants, the year before that I counted 250 plants. This fall I discovered a neighbor's front yard with a bumper crop.. and have tried to reseed our backyard from their plentiful pods. We follow several American Monarch exemplars via the web. One is a teacher who trains her class in the art of banding the butterflies with a tiny label requesting data (date/location) from anyone who finds or captures one. She's brilliant at raising them from eggs and releasing. I have lovely photos of them, extreme close ups etc.. always glad to share and release complete and full right to such as you.. or indeed any lover of these creatures. Sadly, I've seen no Viceroy butterfly in decades.. it is almost a twin for Monarchs, slightly smaller with different black line structure on the wings.. Go Milkweed !

jrkrideau said...

Given the way the Trump regime is ignoring climate change Mar-a-Lago should be underwater soon. Perhaps not a swamp per se but enough that the guests will be able to share the greens with water snakes and the odd sea-going alligator.

jrkrideau said...

I live in downtown Kingston and I have not seen a like Monarch in years despite the fact that there are milkweed plants in the yard and in several neighours' gardens.

As a kid I can remember walking through clouds of them as they clustered around the patchs of milkweed along the road.

I do miss them so this is good news.

Simon said...

Hi Jackie....I can only hope that when Trump is finally sentenced they will add some time on for the destruction of that butterfly sanctuary. As for the butterfly effect I will command my little friends on the island to flutter their wings in unison while I wave my arms in the air,mand hopefully the sea off Palm Beach will surge and turn Mar-a-Lago into the new Atlantis...🐋

Simon said...

Hi salamander...I'm told that last year was a better year than most for the Monarchs, but not where I live. It may be because of the winds by the lake that forced them to travel over land to get to the other side. And as for all the other butterflies I grew up with, Inhaven't seen them in years. It's very sad because there are few more beautiful sights than a garden full of flowers with butterflies all over the place....

Simon said...

Hi jrkrideau...when I was a boy I had a butterfly book and used to count them every day like others count birds. I knew all their names, and when I saw a mighty Monarch it would make my day. How much are we losing, and I feel sorry for the children of today. Tragically, many farmers have destroyed milkweed patches growing on the sides of their fields for the sake of a few extra feet to grow crops on...