There is no way that someone would “like” this heartbreaking blog posting, but please “like it” if you see the seriousness of it, the environmental implications of it.
I, not long ago, posted some information from the Sierra Club, that i belong to, about Monarch Butterfly populations declining in North America since 1997. The Midwestern United States has seen an 88% decline. I also recently sent in a check to a Sierra Club supported drive to get Monarch Butterfly plate decals (which would help fund the Illinois Dept. of Natural Resources to support Monarch habitats). However, nothing prepared me for the dismal discovery that i made while photographing insects in a wildflower field that was across a rural road from a farm cornfield. I knew about how important Milkweed plants are for Monarch caterpillars, and when i’ve been out photographing lately, i’ve been curious about the Milkweed plants. I’ve been seeing Milkweed plants that were eaten and chewed up… but no caterpillars. Then, one day, while in the wildflower field across from a cornfield, i saw some Milkweed plants. One Milkweed Plant was chewed up, and when i lifted a few leaves to get a closer look… a very — and unnaturally — dead caterpillar is what was seen (i.e., the second photograph). When i was young, corn often had a few grubs or insects around the silk end, and that little part was simply chopped off. These days, there are never such “intruders”; heaven forbid! People would vehemently complain! However, the pesticides — these over-kill overly potent pesticides — you can be sure, are residually still there and are far more precarious and unhealthy than the little pests. Little wonder why Europe doesn’t even want to get U.S. pesticide riddled corn/soy. Additionally, another factor: A recent study by Bret Elderd and Matthew Faldyn from Louisiana State University suggest climate change can alter the chemical composition of Milkweed making it poisonous to Monarchs. The increase in temperatures — due to global warming — causes Milkweed plants to be stressed and produce more toxins, toxins which then become deadly to the very Monarch caterpillars that they had protected. There are tons of people out there, unfortunately, who ignorantly deny man’s role in climate change and who do little or nothing to help change things for the better. Sad and immoral!
All the factors involved with this are far too vast for me to go into. For one thing, we need to reduce our human population; in other words, keep it at more reasonable levels, live more environmentally conscious, and grow food in more organic and considerate ways. Too few are talking seriously about any of this and it is unlikely that things will change any time soon. The bees, too, are dwindling, and many realize that when they go, we go.
The poor Monarchs are yet another unfortunate, beautiful species harmed by man.
monkey say dont worry tom. human population due for drastic reduction sooner than later.
Yes, sure seems like that’s going to be the case, Mr. Monkey!
monkey form new cynical theory. maybe gratefulness need be expressed to moral imbecile politician and vulture capitalist who hasten end of human species.
There are some really sweet, caring people out there too, so one sure wouldn’t want the rotten politicians and vulture capitalists to hasten the end. Maybe we will finally wake-up as a species but that certainly doesn’t seem very likely so far…
I hadn’t heard about the effect of temperature on milkweed and then in monarchs. Awful! Not sure what we can do globally but I do know that individually we can all do our bit to reduce our carbon footprint.
Yes, reduce our carbon footprint, which too many people are still indifferent about. We need to change that!
Staggering info, that even milkweed can turn to poison, we are in deep trouble. Thank you for this Tom.
Yes, Paul, it’s sad. Hotter than hell here in Illinois lately, and i’ve looked at plenty of milkweed plants that have no healthy caterpillars in them.
A direct indication, implications frightening.
The other problem with milkweed is it attracts aphids big time. We had that problem with ours. The monarchs will not attach to the plant. We have a couple of beauties gracing our yard and I love to watch them flutter about. I pray human kind wakes up before it’s much too late to do anything. As always, Tom, I admire your passion for nature and its well being. Thank you!! 🦋🐝
Yes, for humans to really wake up, there has to be a revolution of consciousness. I have seen many signs of that, unfortunately.
I really do understand your concern about these beautiful creatures, Thomas. I also see a decline of butterflies in Germany, too. Some years ago we had a nice variety of maybe 10 -15 different kinds, but this year, mostly 1 or 2 kinds. This year was very warm, something the butterflies might like, I thought, but maybe they miss certain flowers and weeds, too. I see your concern and wish that more people would wake-up. Regards Mitza
Like i mentioned to Dorinda, for people to really wake up, Mitza, there has to be a revolution of consciousness. Not many signs of that around really… which is very unfortunate.
When man believed he was better that nature he lit the fuse on the human race.
So keep posting Tom 👍
Yes, George, we are just another species. They are important and significant too. We truly are violating their fundamental rights. Stay perceptive!
I planted Milkweed in our front yard two years ago to create a comfort zone for monarchs when they come here in October on their way to Mexico. They used to flock to a field down the street, but someone decided to build a house and that field is gone. Hopefully they will come here.
So great that you were planting Milkweed! I know some people locally who have planted a lot of Milkweed, which is great. Larger environmental factors spill into this and all of us (as humans) have responsibility and must do better.
I am so sorry to hear this. Thank you for the enlightening (and very frightening) information. It makes me sad for many reasons, but mainly because when my husband was alive, we photographed the migration of butterflies through southern GA. It was such a beautiful sight to behold. Now every time I see a monarch butterfly, I greet it with “Hi, Dan!” in honor of my husband. He would be very distressed to learn the current state of the Monarch butterflies.
That “Hi Dan!” phenomenon is so sweet! The observer-observed relationship and our interconnectivity with things render it to be quite legitimate.
We humans need to perceive the close relationship that we have with nature, that so many ignore.
heartbreaking on so many levels
Yes, Sylvia, it is not a pretty picture. We all need to communicate about this more and get people to change, which is no easy task!
We have a lot to answer for. It seems our solution to a ‘problem’ is to throw more chemicals at it. If we’d just go away the Earth would do very well without us! I realise this is not a possibility, but it’s about time we stopped doing way more harm than good.
Just, yesterday, Scifi, i heard them talking on the radio about how wonderful and powerful some of the new crop pesticides are. They claimed that such pesticides will allow farmers to sleep a lot better (without nighttime worries). Yeah right.
It makes no sense! We have to go More organic, not less!
Very sad indeed, and I can well understand your reaction Tom, I too wish that more people would wake up to what is really happening to our earth and its wonderful species.
Yes, and like i mentioned to Dorinda, for that to happen, there must be a revolution in consciousness. I don’t see that happening much in this rather indifferent world.
We can only hope Tom, and do our bit, I keep wanting to think that there will come a turn-around in thinking and acting.
Yes, i often hope for such a turnaround. Doesn’t seem likely in the near term for most; that’s for sure.
So beautiful Tom! Mágic encounter ! 🙂
Thank you, Marcela!
I noticed… 😦 Just two years ago, right in my backyard I counted 13 varieties of about 5-6 species. Last year my backyard was graced with approx 6 butterflies, and this year… just TWO!!! :O
We have a lot of the small Cabbage butterflies but not too many of the larger species this year. If we are not careful, you will only (in the future) be able to see some in museums.
Dear Tom, I was going to pull the milkweed from my garden this weekend but after reading your post… I will just thin it out a bit. I planted it last year on purpose to host Monarchs and got to see 3 emerge from their chrysalises plus many others about the place. Love from Ipswich, Qld, Australia x
Please try to leave as much Milkweed as possible. There are a lot of other species — not necessarily butterflies — that depend upon this plant.
I will ♡
Grim, Tom. At least you care. Bleak future, I’m afraid.
Nothing like a very sick planet full of many who think that nothing is wrong whatsoever. Partying on the Titanic.
Yes, it’s a lost cause, I feel (and fear). Even a revolution in thinking and doing will not save us from what we’ve done and where we’ve progressed to.
I don’t see enough seriousness out there. We may indeed likely be past the turning point. We, like the Titanic, are in the middle of nowhere; and the corrupt government has its scientists talking to us about going to live on another planet. No way that that is realistic.
Scary about the milkweed becoming more toxic. I have seen a few swallowtails and monarchs this summer, not a lot. We had a huge influx of Painted Ladies last year….I’ve seen none so far! Our dill plants in our community garden plot have attracted a number of swallowtail caterpillars.
We had lots of Painted Ladies last year too (in our riverbank yard especially); not many were seen this year at all. We have quite a few of the smaller Cabbage butterflies but not too many of the larger species. Scary stuff happening… yes.
I just returned from California where I had that same monarch/milkweed conversation with a friend. We were sitting in her flower garden about all the milkweed she grows. Then I saw what I was certain must have been a monarch. The first one I’ve seen in over 15 years! My friend didn’t get to see it and thought I might have been mistaken because she hadn’t seen one there before. Anyway, she told me a few days later that the monarch came back! Gardening chemicals are toxic and it kills me every time I see one of my neighbors carefully spray Round-up around the yards! Hopefully enough people will come around to help facilitate the changes we need to make!
Well, it’s good to read that some parts of California aren’t burning to the ground. Fires are so rampant in California and the western states that dangerous smoke is covering pretty much the whole of the U.S. And they say that the California fires will be the new normal! One wonders how butterflies (and other life forms) are supposed to successfully live in such conditions?! E.E.Cummings was right… a world of made is not a world of born.
The air has been bad just about all along the West-coast! We had about two weeks of the worst air recently here in Portland and couldn’t even go outside without my eyes burning. We’ve always had fires out here, I think the difference is just they are much fiercer. The weather seems to be getting more extreme all across the earth! On a positive note, I did see a second monarch the next day. It landed on milkweed at my favorite nursery there!
I just want to say thank you….
Thanks so much, Carol! It isn’t easy for any of us who can really see.
Humans are the problem. But humans are not all equally contributing to the problem. Hats off to you and others working through the Sierra Club to tip the scales a little bit. And posts like this help. The dead caterpillar image is very strong.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t the only Monarch caterpillar that i have recently observed to “not make it.” I think The Hollow Men poem, by T.S.Eliot, is appropriate here.
This is so heartbreaking. To think we are supposed to be the caretakers of this planet…oh we are taking care of it alright! 😦
We — most of us anyway — are no caretakers; that’s for sure! Unfortunately, like what was written to Jazz, The Hollow Men poem, by T.S.Eliot, is appropriate here.
It’s very sad Tom and the only butterflies I saw this Summer (except at the botanical gardens) were ordinary Cabbage Whites and very, very few of them. Lord knows we have had the heat, maybe not the sunny days, but certainly the heat to bring on the butterflies. The pesticides are killing us all – just look at the “Round-up” verdict not too long ago. And I shudder to think that the oatmeal I’ve been eating every morning for years, … no make that decades … is not the healthful bowl of goodness that I eat and enjoy it for, but in essence a bowl of poison.
I mostly just see Cabbage butterflies in our area. The masses of other butterflies that i used to see just a few years ago… not to be seen. Unfortunately, like what was written to Jazz, The Hollow Men poem, by T.S.Eliot, is appropriate here. Massive fires in the western U.S. are supposed to be the new normal; with smoke covering the whole of the U.S., how are butterflies and other creatures supposed to thrive?!
I agree Tom and what is sad is that those massive forest fires are not even being mentioned on the news anymore – it is like it old hat and unimportant. This Heat Dome is supposed to be our new normal. I dread to think of Summers that are as awful as this one has been – I can’t imagine how animals will thrive in conditions that they are subject to now.
I am crying with you.
Good! Means you see something that a lot do not. E.E.Cummings was right… a world of made is not a world of born. If you have time, please read some of what was discussed with others above. We each, no matter how bad things seem, need to be perceptive, caring, and responsible. A little light in all of the darkness still matters tremendously.
I just thought of George Carlin. He said Gia made mane to make plastic and when there is enough of it we won’t be necessary. In other words we will soon be eliminated as an unnecessary toxin to Gia.
They’ll implant chips in our so-called brains and we’ll be useful tools. (Most of us are already programmed from a distance.)
Very funny — or is it?
Thank you for caring. Thank you for communicating.
Thank you, CC! I appreciated that!
While we’re dealing with aphids, poor forestry practices, overuse of pesticides, and such, we need to do what we can to change people, as well. Our society values snark and conflict, rather than creative engagement. Every time we stand against that, we’re helping to create an environment where people care about more than just themselves.
So sad, Tom. I ‘liked’ because of the awareness you brought to us all on their plight.
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we humans fail to tread lightly ;(
We need to educate ourselves. Many children are learning these things at school and taking it home, either to be embraced enthusiastically or ignored. Change is the hardest thing, people usually want what is convenient, even if it is killing us.