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End of a Monarchy?

End of a Monarchy?

Jacqui Knight is worried. The founder of the Monarch Butterfly New Zealand trust has just driven from Dunedin to Picton and is concerned at how few monarch butterflies she has seen.

“I stopped off for a long walk in Blenheim in the Riverside Park where I saw plenty of wildflowers and cabbage white butterflies, but not one monarch in more than 5 kilometres.”

Jacqui knows that when you are raising monarchs in your garden you see monarchs in your neighbourhood. So you get used to seeing them.

“When I drive around our country I notice where I see them and where I don’t. Monarchs are big and bright, so it’s easy to spot one gliding across the road. The first I saw was in Ashburton, then there were several in Christchurch, but none since.”

Monarch butterflies are considered to be good indicator of the health of the environment. They are much easier to see than other insects. We might be looking out at hundreds of bees and other insects but don’t see them unless they’re up close. Will we notice them if they disappear altogether?

In her Auckland garden there have been few monarchs over the past month and this issue seems to have been Auckland-wide. Monarch-lovers are not sure how this has occurred.

“I hope that when I get home the issue will have righted itself, and there will be another generation of monarch butterflies,” she said. “In the meanwhile, as I drive north, I’ll keep a lookout.”

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