Where have all the Monarch Butterflies gone?

Emily Woody
Have you seen a Monarch butterfly this year? I'm sad to say I have not seen a single one. And I'm feeling anxious because I wonder "will I ever see a monarch again?" Over the past two decades, their numbers have fallen significantly. So much so that they have officially been listed as an endangered species. Scientists believe it's the usual suspects - global warming and deforestation, but the worst culprit is industrial agriculture.

In Alberta, thousands of acres of prairie have been tilled up to plant monocultures like wheat and canola to be made into processed junk foods. This ends up destroying butterfly habitat as well as the Monarch caterpillar’s only food source, the beautiful milkweed plant. This contributes to the death of the Monarch. When we douse the Okanagan in pesticides that are highly toxic to butterflies and other pollinators in order have perfect looking fruit, we contribute to the death of the Monarch.

You cannot monetize the Monarch. It doesn't make a product that someone can sell. It doesn't contribute to GDP. So in the eyes of our industrialized society it is deemed worthless. But to any sane human the Monarch isn't worthless - It's priceless. However, if we don't start caring about all the priceless gifts we’ve been blessed with such as the Monarchs, the old growth forests, the pristine lakes, we will lose them all to destruction in the name of the almighty dollar.

We know how to save the Monarchs. We could plant more milkweed, we could track their migration patterns and create more butterfly habitats for them, we could stop spraying so many pesticides and herbicides. We could stop supporting industrial agriculture. The questions is, when will we care enough to actually apply those solutions?