When There is No Monarch Butterfly Anymore, Improvise

Nine years ago, I spotted a monarch larva on the milkweed up the hill, and even saw a monarch fluttering around. That was the last one. The milkweed continues to bloom, although it’s not as abundance as it was. However, the wavy thistles are in decline, due in part to indiscriminate poisoning of the invasive scotch thistle, and technicians who don’t always, ahem, know the difference. Beetles love thistles. They romp around up there, on those soft pillows. They mate up there. Beetles are Made In a Thistle®. But what happens when it is all, well, wrong?

The beetles move to the milkweed, which is invaded by the sagebrush, and then do gymnastics on the sagebrush, that’s what. This is part of an indigenous principle, a secwepemc elder taught me a few years back: don’t ask “what are we doing to the Earth” but “what is the Earth doing?” Well, this week, in the North Okanagan grassland, this is what she is doing.

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