Most people know that monarchs migrate from the United States and Canada to central Mexico to hibernate in winter. This can mean a trip of nearly 3,000 miles!
Between 2012 and 2013 the amount of butterflies who wintered in the Mexican forest decreased by 40%. The forest habitat itself is disappearing as a result of illegal logging. But the extreme weather conditions of the last few years, due to climate change, have also caused lower hatching rates. Another factor is the loss of milkweed plants, the primary food source for monarchs, killed by agricultural herbicides.
Fifty years ago I spent many happy and non-productive days in the fields and woods across the railroad tracks down the street from my house in Ohio. Some of my activities: catching tadpoles (and occasionally falling into the creek), picking blackberries, chasing dragonflies, lying in the weeds looking up at the sky, stalking butterflies and moths with net and relaxing jar. I never did manage to catch a swallowtail with tails intact, but I did get a good monarch specimen. Butterflies of all kinds were plentiful in my childhood world; the memories seem to me now like a rose-colored fairy tale.
Thanks to Nina for her comments on my bird collage, which led me back to butterflies.