Last week we talked about migration, and this week it’s a related topic, climate change. One of the migrants, our sub-species of the Monarch Butterfly, flies all the way from Nova Scotia to Mexico, and breeds primarily in milkweed patches in the USA. Now, what some may not know is that the Monarchs we see here are not return migrants, they are the descendants of Monarchs perhaps three, four or five generations past from the ones we saw last summer. You see, the individual Monarchs make the southbound trip, breed and die along the way south, and then overwinter in Mexico, then breed in Texas on the return, and the adults die again. The young become butterflies after emerging, but this takes time, and then the process repeats itself on other milkweed patches along the migration route.
The amazing fact of migration means these insects are very sensitive to climate change. It’s been a particularly warm summer here in Nova Scotia, and I took this image of a Monarch this week. Hot and dry summers such as this one are hard on the Monarchs, but such weather actually is dangerous as the Monarchs stay longer than they should, thinking the weather will allow them to stay here, when they should be on their way South.
Climate change is very real and combined with habitat loss the Monarch’s populations here have dropped some 90% in recent years, and they are listed as endangered as a sub-specie here in Nova Scotia. We need to do everything we can to fight climate change and adopt a lifestyle that will allow us to live without threatening other species on this planet. The Monarchs are a wonderful symbol of something so beautiful that we can eradicate unintentionally if we don’t learn and care.