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#Regram #RG @franslanting: Photo by @FransLanting For as long as anyone can remember, Monarch butterflies have fluttered from all over the American West to coastal California every fall to overwinter in a few sheltered places. In communities like Pacific Grove and Santa Cruz (my hometown for many years) their annual return has been as predictable as autumn colors are to people on the East Coast. I remember my amazement when I first saw them covering single trees by the thousands. But their wintering sites have become eerily quiet. A recent census by the Xerces Society confirms that the western Monarch population is in the midst of a catastrophic collapse. Their numbers have declined by more than 95% from more than ten million in the 1980s to a mere 20,000 today. The unthinkable is becoming a real possibility. Western Monarchs may go extinct if this trend continues. Researchers have not identified a single cause for this demise, but point to pesticides, habitat loss and drought as factors. Butterflies are barometers for an ecosystem’s health. When they go, we have reasons to worry, not just for them, but about ourselves too. It breaks my heart that a phenomenon that has been synonymous for generations with nature’s enduring cycles may turn into a new symbol for how seriously the balance of nature is being upset in our lifetime. What are your thoughts about this? Follow me @FransLanting and @ChristineEckstrom as we bear witness to our changing planet. @LeonardodiCapriofdn @Xercessociety @Thephotosociety #Monarchs #Endangered #Extinction #Nature #Butterfly #Santacruz #MontereyBay #California