Tue | May 30, 2023

Butterfly mystery

Published:Friday | January 15, 2010 | 12:00 AM

The Editor, Sir:

On December 16, while walking slowly on the right side of the scenic road from Runaway Bay to St Ann's Bay, I counted, I believe, 200 dead monarch butterflies. The next day I walked from Vista Del Mar Estates towards Ocho Rios and counted another 150, some of them still gasping for air. At first, I thought they were being hit by motor vehicles but, on closer observation, I realised none was found in the middle of the road, making it unlikely that they were flying into oncoming traffic, unless the wind was blowing them onto the roadside.

Puzzling to me, it appeared they were choosing the grassy knoll to die. I am not sure if they were feeding on something that caused them to die. Maybe there is a logical reason for the biologists to explain. However, it seemed odd to have such a large cluster of dead monarch butterflies in such a small area - even if they are being hit by buses and cars.

Disoriented monarch

One of them was so disoriented, it clung to my shorts as I walked and would not leave. When it did, it fell to the ground and died.

In Professor Thomas Homer-Dixon's book, The Ingenuity Gap, he drew an astonishing illustration, showing the steep decline in the migrating monarch butterflies from British Columbia to Mexico, where they spend the winter months. This disaster he blamed on environmental pollution.

I am sure there are specialists in this area who know the pattern and feeding habits of Jamaica's monarchs and will explain what seemed, to me, a strange occurrence.

I am, etc.,



Ontario, Canada