Related: Adirondack Chronicles, Catholic issues, Environment, Social Issues, Social Justice Issues

Adirondack Chronicles 2015.5: Birds and Bees, Bears and Butterflies


raquette vista (Large)

I’ve seen more bears than monarch butterflies on this trip.

Bears: 5  Monarch Butterflies:  0

Where have all the monarchs gone?

Destruction of the primary breeding plants for monarchs — milkweed — is a primary source of the decline in the monarch population all over the country.  Pesticides and mowing account for the destruction of millions of monarch larvae.  While milkweed is still abundant in the north country, the monarchs are missing this year.  Usually at this time of year I have seen scores of monarchs alighting on the big flowers of the milkweed, but this year, passing stand after stand of milkweed along the roads in the back country, I have not seen one of the big orange beauties.  This photo is from last year:


I have seen other kinds of butterflies and winged creatures feasting on the milkweed:

yellow moth_edited-1

blue moth (Large)black and orange butterfky (Large)

hummoth 8 (Large)

What’s that strange looking creature?  Another example of a hummoth, sort of a cross between a hummingbird and a moth.

Feathered and winged creatures are certainly all over the place in these summer months.  The birds are out in force in many varieties:

red birdgray bird_edited-1 (Large)hawk (Large)

tupper orange better (Large)

Bees are also doing their part to pollinate plants and ensure the health of the ecosystem:

bee 1 (Large)durant bee (Large)bumblebee (Large)

Recognizing that every living creature has a part to play in sustaining the health of the planet, Pope Francis writes in his encyclical on the environment:

“Caring for ecosystems demands far-sightedness since no one looking for quick and easy profit is truly interested in their preservation.  But the cost of the damage caused by such selfish lack of concern is much greater than the economic benefits to be obtained.  Where certain species are destroyed or seriously harmed, the values involved are incalculable.”  (Laudato Si #36)

I’m thinking of those missing monarch butterflies.  Pope Francis goes on:

“Greater investment needs to be made in research aimed at understanding more fully the functioning of ecosystems and adequately analyzing the different variables associated with any significant modification of the environment.  Because all creatures are connected, each must be cherished with love and respect, for all of us as living creatures are dependent on one another.  Each area is responsible for care of this family.  This will require undertaking a careful inventory of the species which it hosts, with a view to developing programmes and strategies of protection with particular care for safeguarding species heading toward extinction.”  (Laudato Si #42)

And where are my photos of the bears?  Right here:

bear 2 (Large)

Can’t see it?  Somewhere in the shadows is a black bear that just ran across the road in front of me…. but bears move very fast so getting the picture is a challenge!  And I’m too busy taking cover!  Trust me, they’re all over the place!

bird on firethorn_edited-1 (Large)

Next:  Educators and the Ecosystem

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