Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Years ago...

I gave a wistful commentary on what RR beans might mean to monarch butterflies.  The link is the virtual eradication of milkweeds from our fields.

Never mind I thought I hated them as they slipped aside from my hoe walking beans or the sticky sap gummed up my fingers.  Still there were the amazingly beautiful surprises when the combine reel would whack a ripe pod and the seeds would explode like graceful slow-motion snowflakes.

But like my ancestors talking about passenger pigeons, it may soon be a lost piece of nature.

While other factors cannot be dismissed, lack of milkweeds is the main cause of the monarch's slide toward extinction.
“The migration is definitely proving to be an endangered biological phenomenon,” Lincoln Brower, a leading entomologist at Sweet Briar College in Virginia, told the Associated Press. “The main culprit is now GMO herbicide-resistant corn and soybean crops and herbicides in the USA, [which] leads to the wholesale killing of the monarch’s principal food plant, common milkweed.”Monarch butterflies lay their eggs on milkweed plants. When the eggs hatch, the larvae feed off the plant. Researchers say that without milkweed, there are no butterflies."They can't lay eggs on anything else,” Christopher Singer, founder of the nonprofit Live Monarch Foundation, said in a statement, according to theChristian Science Monitor. “Can't lay it on a watermelon, can't lay it on a parsley plant. It has to be a milkweed plant."[More]

This is not an "Alas Babylon!" post. Species go extinct and arise constantly. This one strikes me as regrettable, but only because of so many milkweed-monarch memories. My grandchildren will never miss the monarch butterflies they never saw. 

It does seem a little unnecessary, however. And more than a little sad.

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