In an eerie reminder of the cost of abusing the environment, Jim Robbins in an article for the New York Times Sunday Review – The Year the Monarch Didn’t Appear – noted that this year “for the first time in memory” the butterflies did not fly to the central Mexican forests for their annual migration on November 1st, as they have for centuries.
Where have I heard that before? Barbara Kingsolver used that premise in her novel Flight Behavior. Have you read it?
Monarch butterflies and bees are disappearing. According to Robbins’ article, roads, parking lots, manicured lawns, and pesticides are destroying natural habitats. In Kingsolver’s fictionalized story, the butterflies lose their instinctive tracking system and show up in Appalachia. The story ends with a natural disaster (I won’t spoil it for you, if you haven’t read it), but Robbins predicts a real disaster with the ending of his article:
“…If the bees were to truly disappear, we would lose 80 percent of the plants…That’s a huge problem for mankind.”
I’m planning a trip to Pacific Grove, California next year – one of the stops for the monarch butterfly’s migration I wonder if they will be there.