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Friday, January 22, 2021

Monarch butterfly population moves closer to extinction as number wintering in California hits record low

The number of western monarch butterflies wintering along the California coast has plummeted precipitously to a record low, putting the orange-and-black insects closer to extinction, researchers announced Tuesday. 

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I remember one time about 35 years ago me and my buddy Dave was enjoying a day of heavy duty fucking off down in the lower Mother Lode, and headed south past Hornitos, turning on to Old Toll Road which was a narrow, twisting (are you ready for this?) old toll road from the 1850s linking mining camps to the area around Mariposa.
We had pulled over to roll a joint and so Dave could take a piss and he hollered at me to come check something out. I got out of the truck and looked to where he was pointing, and down in the valley below us, it looked like the ground was moving. Right about that time, a fucking wave of Monarch butterflies crested the hill and swept up over the road, my truck, and us. There were millions of them and I'm not exaggerating - they were so thick that with me and Dave standing 30 feet apart, we couldn't see each other. We could actually hear those little fuckers as they were moving the air around with their wings, sounded like a whisper.
We enjoyed it for a few minutes and left. We had to pull over in Mariposa and hunt for a car wash because I had butterfly goo all over, and I do mean all over my poor truck.
What was worse was after we headed north towards home, we got about halfway between Mariposa and Coulterville on Highway 49 and my fucking truck started overheating. You guessed it, my radiator was covered in butterflies and not allowing any air passage. What was bad is there's no towns between Mariposa and Coulterville where we could've cleaned them out with water enough to make it home. When we finally made it home hours and hours later because we had to keep stopping to let the engine cool, I had to pull the radiator completely out and spray the fuck out of it just to get the mess out between the cooling fins and tubes.
We marked that day and went back on that some day every year for the next 5 or 6 years hoping to see it again, but that was the only time we got lucky.

6 comments:

  1. Milkweeed is an essential plant for monarchs - its the only thing they lay their eggs on, and the only thing the larvae will eat. Plant some in your yard; it's an attractive landscaping plant too.
    https://www.nwf.org/Garden-For-Wildlife/About/Native-Plants/Milkweed.aspx
    CC

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  2. Maybe they've moved to Texas!

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  3. Just common milkweed. Was looking at seeds and wondering if there's a certain milkweed plant. I would plant a patch where I don't spray for them.

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  4. Further south. The story of their migration over a year is pretty amazing based on their mode of flight. The trees they breed in down south sound like a wind when they take flight by the thousands. A couple a years ago I happened to look up during a decent north wind and was amazed at the number spotted in flight and how high some were.

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  5. "Researchers" and "experts" have issued dire warnings about butterfly extinction for several years now.

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  6. Re: overheating, had that happen to me in my parents car decades ago. Little brown moths, something to do with spruce budworm, I was told. Middle of nowhere, late at night. Caught just short of boil-over.

    Just happened to remember my auto shop teacher mentioning that the heater in a lot of cars had as much as 40% of the cooling capacity of the rad. Max heat and fan got me outta that jam. Did I mention it was 85 degrees outside? Sweaty ride home.

    After that, all my vehicles have a piece of window screen big enough to cover rads, intercoolers, condensers, etc. hiding behind grill....

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