Butterfly reductions seem to be spreading to other varieties

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is an open letter printed here at the author’s request.

Dear Dr. Shorthouse:

I was very pleased to read your article on monarch butterflies (‘Entomologist optimistic about return of monarchs, July 31, page 1). Like you I am a great fan of their almost magical migration technique, and have been aware of their reducing presence here. Years ago, while on the Board of Misery Bay Nature Reserve, I conducted walks around these butterflies at Mac’s Bay where they were prolific. I also noted their congregation in August when they were found collected by the scores in trees on the Burpee/Mills town line. I assumed they were congregating preparatory to southward migration.

Now however, I have an additional question for you. I am alarmed by what appears to be a similar reduction in the number of many of our regular butterflies. I have only seen four or five tiger swallowtails this year, a couple of mourning cloaks, the monarch’s look-alike Viceroys, the fritillaries, the admirals and so on. It seems even the number of the tiny skippers that ordinarily filled our hayfields in measureless numbers have also been reduced. I am wondering if in your travels about the Island you have noticed a similar trend, and if so, would you suggest a cause? The same as those you attribute to monarch reduction? Have you a hope for a reversal in this trend?

I sincerely wish you luck with your continuing research and will keep a lookout for any sightings to report.

Doreen Bailey