When the Insectarium sounded the alarm confirming that the province’s most recognizable butterfly—the monarch—had virtually disappeared from this territory, having experienced a dramatic drop of approximately 90% across eastern North America, media everywhere relayed the news. Numerous citizens also shared with us their concern and their willingness to act. The tragic situation of the monarch butterfly clearly touched many Quebecers. This is, once again, proof that a large part of the solution can and must come from all of us; that the power of change is in our hands. The monarch is threatened, in the long term, by the destruction of its habitats and—faster and more drastically—by the impact of climate change.
The Monarch Oasis program was conceived to support people who would like to offer these butterflies a place to feed and shelter as well as the habitat for reproduction they need. Québec’s gardeners have shown a great deal of interest in the program, and we have already received some requests for certification. It is a step in the right direction. And of course, it is not only the monarchs that benefit from these gardens, large and small, which provide diversity, colour, freshness and, occasionally, a harvest!
What can you do to counter climate change? The solutions are not so quick to apply, but it is essential to get started as soon as possible: reduce your consumption (of goods and energy), reuse, recycle, compost, slow down, and so on. There are also other important things you can do: exercise your rights as a citizen and demand that governments acknowledge the situation and take the necessary action. Of course, the world will not stop turning if monarchs disappear, but it will be a sadder place. On the other hand, what affects butterflies affects many other living things, including us. Must we wait for the breaking point to act?
And yet, there is strength in numbers. Together, we can change things. The monarch has proven this before. Back when large parts of this insect’s life were a mystery, a Canadian researcher had the idea of asking volunteers to help with his scientific work. To find out where monarchs went before winter, he got hundreds of people to tag, release and find them—drops of water in an orange ocean flowing southwards. With a great deal of perseverance and intuition—but especially the help of ordinary citizens—he discovered their hibernation sites in Mexico. From then on, it was possible to organize the preservation of these precious, fragile locations.
The Monarch Odyssey
Want to join the movement? Create a Monarch Oasis, take part in the Monarch Odyssey activity or register for the next edition of The Monarch Odyssey, an activity telling the story of Fred Urquhart and the discovery of the hibernation sites. Dozens of monarchs aretagged and released as part of the common effort to collect information on the butterflies’ migration.
Want to join the movement? Create a Monarch Oasis, take part in the Monarch Odyssey activity or register for the next edition of Monarchs Without Borders (starting January 2014). You will have the pleasure of watching monarchs turn from caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly, tagging them and providing data to the scientists at Monarch Watch. Let’s take action together.