Close up Courtesy of gene hanson

Allan and I were commenting on his WDEL blog, that Monarchs were in very short supply this year. I had seen none. Neither has he.

It brought to mind that great losses were expected this year because a census in the mountains of Central Mexico recorded millions were missing from their winter home. Since colonies like to fly together and land together, I was hoping our Monarchs were not privy to that catastrophe.

I am now worried I was right. Monarchs have always played an important part of rural people’s psyche. Seeing a Monarch, since it is so recognizable, gives one an uplift to the spirit, invariably followed by an excited voice saying, “look it’s a Monarch!”… Former President Jimmy Carter, a farmer by trade, commented on this special feeling one gets, by saying the Monarch united three nations in peace. How true.

Monarchs are personal to me. I was fortunate to have lived on two different flyways, in two different states, and well remember lining up carseats of children on the back porch to watch the parade of Monarchs steadily bob their way south. As elementary children, our very kind and thoughtful principal would break all classes to let us out onto the playground to stand in awe and silence, and watch hundreds of the King of Insects go bobbing by. They never wavered side to side; they never stopped; just kept flying one right after another.

Why are they missing? Well that is up to speculation. For you see, they being Monarchs, are mysterious, secretive. We just simply don’t know? Speculation ranges from loss of milkweed due to new development; insecticides on farm land. As a side example it was just found this year, that a new fungicide has wiped out millions and millions of honeybees. But Monarchs were so secretive, it took almost all the formative years of Allan’s lifetime before we even discovered where the Eastern Monarch rested during winter. Once discovered, it was breaking news on NBC. We now know a migration takes multiple generations coming north, and one super-generation going south, and it is through genetic code, that they pass the knowledge of exactly which field where home is. Amazing.

Anytime one hears something like this one assumes the worse, such as when one gets a message while at work that one’s spouse was ambulanced to the emergency room. “Will I see them again” is the first thought one wonders! So it is with this revelation, and probably the reaction is premature but being human nature, I will certainly wonder until confirmation comes in otherwise, if the Eastern species died out, at least the local tribe, and whether or not we will see these mysterious creatures ever again!

We are very fortunate to have Allan Loudell as our state’s prime newscaster, because of his interest in this topic, tomorrow at 12:18 (or closely approximate) he will be interviewing the prime expert in the world on Monarch butterfly migration.Dr. Lincoln Brower at Sweet Briar College in Virginia.

If you have ever said… “oh there’s a monarch” and felt a little tingle of excitement flow through your veins at the sight of it, I encourage you to set your radio to the AM side of the radio dial tomorrow at lunch, on there at at the 1150 mark, especially around 12:18. This is a lifetime, golden opportunity. Not just for enthusiasts, but they are welcome to listen too.

Perhaps we can learn there is something we can do to help… like plant milkweed. In any regard, what may be now happening is a real tragedy, one worse than the extinction of the passenger pigeon. If it is determined that it is human activity that winds up killing off this most brave of insects, a bug who quite possibly travels in its short life, further than 85% of Delawareans ever get away from home, it will be a huge blemish against our human species.

And if you happen to see a Monarch, you can report your sightings here. You can be part of something big.