Six Large, Two Small, One Egg, One Chrysalis, One Hope

Human action has long impacted the environment. The U.N. report provides compelling evidence linking human activity to climate change. The scale of this study is so staggering. It is easy to feel hopeless – unable to help with a problem of such magnitude.

Perhaps big changes need to begin with small steps – Or, even the flutter of wings.

Monarch butterflies are in population decline. It seems likely that we could witness their extinction within our lifetimes. With small steps, we can bolster their numbers. Habitat loss and the use of insecticides are hurting Monarchs.

Plant milkweed! It is one small thing that we can do to help Monarchs. It is the only food source of the Monarch caterpillar. No milkweed means no butterflies.

I have a glorious swath of milkweed lining the space between the street and the sidewalk. Last year, I took in three small caterpillars with the hope of providing protection during their vulnerable pupa and chrysalis stages. Sadly, the first chrysalis succumbed to something called “black death”. In addition to the manmade problems, Monarchs are also vulnerable to attacks from the natural world such as bacterial infection “black death”, parasites (especially tachnid flies), and predation. But, the next two made it to adulthood. They flew off together into the crisp late summer sky.

Currently, I have six large caterpillars, two small caterpillars, one egg, and one chrysalis. I hope to see them mature into beautiful butterflies and release them into the world. This can seem like an insignificant act, especially when one considers the magnitude of the climate problems detailed in today’s U.N. report. However, all positive change begins with hope – and this is no small thing.

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