Fly Away

Keith Hayes | October 15, 2019 | Leave a Comment Download as PDF

Image courtesy of author.

In Minnesota as boy I used to raise Monarch butterflies. On summer break mornings I’d go behind my parents house into a large park that had a creek flowing through it. Between the creek and our house was a football field sized patch of grass which had a few oak trees. Nearby the grass a large patch of Milkweed grew.

Every year Monarch butterflies would fly over the grass and land on the milkweed plants to lay eggs. I’d collect small freshly hatched Monarch caterpillars and sometimes even some of the eggs. I would see an egg or a caterpillar under a leaf and I’d cut the leaf they were on off with a knife. Then I’d gently put the milkweed leaf in a paper bag I carried with me.

Back home I’d take the leaves, caterpillars, and eggs and put them in a screen topped ten gallon aquarium. Every day I would go back to the field and harvest fresh milkweed plants for my caterpillars to eat. As they grew the caterpillars would shed skin like frogs. When caterpillars were big enough they would shed skin one last time to become a chrysalis hanging under a leaf on a stem, or from a twig in the corner of the aquarium. The green chrysalis was beautiful and just before it would hatch out an adult butterfly it would turn gold.

The whole process was amazing and beautiful. Monarch caterpillars are cute. I think so anyway. Most caterpillars have drab coloring to hide out from birds. Monarch caterpillars are different with distinctive rings of yellow, black, and white stripes wrapping around their body. The caterpillars must have tasted bad to birds to get by with being so noticeable I thought.

Tiny caterpillars would double several times in size while they grew. They were busy active eaters and fun to watch. Ten days after a caterpillar became a chrysalis it would pupate into a new butterfly. The chrysalis would change color just before it was ready to hatch out a butterfly with wet shriveled wings. It was captivating.

A new freshly hatched butterfly would have to dry its wings before it could fly off. I learned to let a new butterfly to crawl onto my finger just before it could fly away. Once on my finger I went outside to set the butterfly free. 

The change in chrysalis color along with twitching from a butterfly ready to emerge would give me warning. Alerted to the birth of a new butterfly I’d be ready to release the butterfly right away. I always figured they were born hungry and I wanted them to be on their way without waiting.

Soon Monarch Butterflies will go extinct. The milkweed plant has been a weed in cornfields for decades but corn is now Roundup Ready and milkweed is being eradicated by Roundup in corn fields across the American Midwest. This loss of milkweed is genocide to Monarch butterflies. Monsanto is the manufacturer of Roundup.

This Monsanto:

Documents Reveal Monsanto Surveilled Journalists, Activists & Even Musician Neil Young.

Having a private company decide extinction policy is nuts, and while the loss of the Monarch will be personal and sad to me; it is really only one small part of a huge insect apocalypse. An insect apocalypse caused by,

fifty times more pesticide use than there was in America only twenty-five years ago.

Bees will soon follow the Monarch into extinction from copious pesticide use and when that happens everyone will find the loss of bees personal and sad.. A third of the food we eat need bees for pollination. Loss of bees means loss of food.

Something must be done but I fear nothing will be done. Concern for the biosphere is not in vogue in America. Mainstream media will not be covering the Monarch, and I fear if I asked anyone what they thought of all this, they would tell me we need more corn. They might even say American corporations have dominion over the earth. 

Corporations after all are people. It is written: “The fear of you and the terror of you will be on every beast of the earth and on every bird of the sky; with everything that creeps on the ground, and all the fish of the sea, into your hand they are given.

So dogma says, and it is true as a matter of fact, that corporations are people in the eyes of the law. Corporations have been since the inception of the American Republic and corporate person-hood is deeply rooted in American legal and constitutional tradition. Adding this perspective and this fact together, along with a generous helping of public apathy. And the Monarch Butterfly becomes irrelevant. Just another extinction. But if it were up to me, I’d make the corporation, which makes the roundup, which makes the Monarch Butterfly go extinct. Be extinct and gone instead. 

People should, I think be taking to the streets about this. If anybody knows of something that can be done, please speak up. If I can help I will. Our land is finite, endless growth is not possible now, and actually it never was. Now that this is known, the rights of imaginary people need to be curbed. I say by any means necessary. Having a private company decide extinction policy is beyond crazy or nuts. Corporations pursue profit, never the public good. Ways to hold corporations accountable are inadequate and corporations operate in secrecy. Much needs to be changed.

The Monarch pictured is a male. I was delighted as a boy to be able to tell the difference between the sexes as most adults could not. Now this knowledge just makes me sad. The butterfly in the insect-apocalypse (my second) link is a female.


Keith Hayes is a soldier in the army of truth who works and lives near Seattle Washington. Understanding planetary limits; Keith looks for ways to advance the sustenation of the biosphere and a long term human experiment only made possible by active sustenation and concern. Read more at chasingthesquirrel.com.

 

The MAHB Blog is a venture of the Millennium Alliance for Humanity and the Biosphere. Questions should be directed to joan@mahbonline.org

Email this to someoneTweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on LinkedIn
The views and opinions expressed through the MAHB Website are those of the contributing authors and do not necessarily reflect an official position of the MAHB. The MAHB aims to share a range of perspectives and welcomes the discussions that they prompt.
  • Howard Goldson

    Correct me if I am wrong, but I understand locke’s limitation on acquisition as that which reduces other humans to a Hobbsian short, brutal, mean life. Very different from enough for all.

  • César Valdivieso

    Well Keith, what must be done is to continue insisting that the market system based on indefinite economic growth has to be replaced because it is unsustainable, as long as a viable alternative be proposed to take its place. This requires a lot of work, a lot of planning, and, why not, a good dose of courage because it is about transforming our cities so that they continue to meet the needs of goods and services of their inhabitants, but within a new economic system in which the profit factor is eliminated and the consumption patterns are transformed.

  • Howard Goldson

    From my perspective this and many other consequences of neoliberalism is fundamentally caused by understanding liberty as rugged individualism coupled with Locke’s argument that there should be no limit to private property acquisition. If we were to alter our value system so as to think communally we would be able to see the interrelationality of th entire earth system incluging us. In short, we would feel the pain of the monarch.

    • Keith Hayes

      Ideas of ownership are wrong and you are right about that. Corporations owning the commons is in particular wrong. Money will not worry about the biosphere or humanity. Money only worries about itself. Money will sell chemicals regardless of externalities and that is owning the commons. Money only wants to grow. Corporate ownership is a consequence of the Supreme Court and now we must change our value system or die. There is no ‘if we were to‘ about it!

      • César Valdivieso

        Well said Keith

    • Locke had a proviso: one can acquire property by working the land as long as there is enough and as good left in common for everyone else. In the seventeenth Century this seemed reasonable, but we now can see how finite the Earth really is.