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which performs the greatest migration of any insect on the planet.

I wrote about the race to find the wintering grounds of the monarchs, which Homer Aridjis recounts, in Vanity Fair

Today, the milkweed in North America’s heartland is being snuffed by pesticides. Only three million monarchs made it to the volcanoes of Michoacan, Mexico, last year, as opposed to the usual 60 million. Furthermore the oyamel fir trees in which they spent the winter are being cut by local campesinos, and global warming is pushing the trees and the butterflies ever further up to the tops of the volcano cones. Before much longer there will be no more oyamels for them to hibernate in, and the next trees north are four hundred miles north, the ponderosa pines in the Sierra Madre Occidental. Will the monarchs be able to make this adaptation ?

There are monarchs, the ones on the California coast that don’t go to Mexico but spend the winter in Monterey cypresses. The largest and most famous colony is in Pacific Grove. But last thanksgiving I saw several of them on Big Sur, swirling in a knot south of Pacific Grove. They could have been headed for the smaller colony at Pismo Beach. Maybe the solution for the ones that go to Mexico is to stop migrating so far and find trees they can spend the winter in in North America. God speed the monarchs and keep them with us.



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