Gaye LeBaron, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
There was a wire service news story in the paper a couple of weeks ago about monarch butterflies.
It seems that in late October, some of the eastern monarchs, which are supposed to migrate south to Mexico each fall, were still hanging out in Canada’s Point Pelee National Park on a northern flank of Lake Erie. They should have been “on the road,” so to speak, at least six weeks earlier.
This is scary stuff for the lepidopterists who study butterflies and are already concerned about the effects of climate change on the insects.
Monarchs, they know, don’t do well when the temperature drops below 50 degrees — the muscles that make them flutter apparently stiffen in the cold.
Some consider this another reason to declare the big orange and black butterflies that are the undisputed sovereigns of the butterfly world an endangered species. Some will go further, taking this new glitch in the ecosystem as a warning that the apocalypse draws closer. The optimists say, let’s wait and see what happens next year before we panic.
I am not versed in lepidoptery or entomology. But I do know a little something about monarchs — western monarchs, that is — the ones who live west of the Rocky Mountains in both the U.S. and Canada.
Their southbound migration route hugs the Pacific Coast and can go all the way to Mexico every winter. They have a lot of choices, in California’s temperate coastal climes, as to where to spend their winters.