“I am thunderstruck by the thought that this one butterfly holds the power to contradict a major myth of American natural history: that all the monarchs west of the Rockies crest migrate to California, only those east of the Rockies go to Mexico, and the two don’t mix.” – from Chasing Monarchs : Migrating with the Butterflies of Passage, by Robert Michael Pyle
“’I’ll find a monarch. I will watch it. If it flies, I’ll follow it as far as I can. When I lose it, I’ll take its vanishing bearing – the direction in which it disappears. Then I will quarter the countryside, by foot and by road, until I find the next suitable habitat along that bearing, and do it again. Monarch by monarch, shouldn’t I be able to follow their trend.’” -- from Chasing Monarchs : Migrating with the Butterflies of Passage, by Robert Michael Pyle
Wherever you go to watch migrating monarchs, Chasing Monarchs : Migrating with the Butterflies of Passage, by Robert Michael Pyle, should travel with you. While Pyle’s initial route takes into British Columbia and through parts of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Nevada, Utah, and Arizona, the information he shares along the way is for all who marvel at monarchs. His quest is to prove that not all migrating monarchs west of the Rockies migrate to California, that some choose an alternate route, down through the Great Basin and on to Mexico, following watercourses when available. As Pyle follows “monarch by monarch” on his way south, readers learn about these “wanderers.”
Pyle shares information about their life cycles; what they eat, particularly the importance of milkweed; what is known about monarch migration routes; predators and other threats to their existence; their beauty; strength; and much more. One of the gratifying aspects of Pyle’s book is that we not only increase our knowledge about monarchs, but about the plants, animals, birds, and other butterfly species that Pyle sees and studies along the way as well. We also move with him into different habitats as we follow his descriptions of the changing landscape from British Columbia to southern Arizona and on a subsequent journey from Arizona, into Mexico, and back through California and Oregon. Robert Michael Pyle is the best of guides. He leads with humor, expertise, and curiosity.
Chasing Monarchs : Migrating with the Butterflies of Passage, by Robert Michael Pyle, inspires readers to learn more monarchs. He helps with this by providing “further reading and resources” at the book’s end.
Where rivers, creeks, canals, or roadsides go generally their way, the wanderers (as monarchs are also called) follow them. Here is water, here is nectar, here the likelihood of the sought-after herbs. Watercourses deliver them to milkweed grounds: fields, pastures, meadows, banks and bars; roads lead to parks and gardens and vacant lots, where few milkweed plants are likely to go undiscovered by Danus in a good year. – from Chasing Monarchs : Migrating with the Butterflies of Passage, by Robert Michael Pyle
These are some of the organizations mentioned in Chasing Monarchs.
Journey North : a Global Study of Wildlife Migration and Seasonal Change
The Lepidopterists’ Society
Monarch Monitoring Project
North American Butterfly Association
Texas Monarch Watch
The Xerces Society
…if you wish to help the monarchs take care of themselves, you can visit the Mexican monarchs and contribute liberally to the local economy. You can refuse to take part in transfers and releases, allowing monarchs to fly free where they will under their own power. You can participate in butterfly counts and monarch tagging and monitoring programs. You can join the organizations listed on pages 285-86. and, most important, you can help to nurture and protect the places where monarchs breed, travel, nectar, and roost. Only if enough of us care enough will North American countryside remain replete with native monarchs and milkweeds. -- from Chasing Monarchs : Migrating with the Butterflies of Passage, by Robert Michael Pyle