Migrating with the monarchs

  • Cover of "Chasing Monarchs"

  Trying to unlock the secrets of the West's monarch butterflies, writer and naturalist Robert Michael Pyle logged over 9,500 miles in his beloved 1982 Honda Powdermilk.


In his Chasing Monarchs travelogue, Pyle starts by the Similkameen River in Canada, traveling south along the Columbia and Snake rivers, through the Great Basin, up onto the Colorado Plateau and into Mexico before swinging up to the California Coast.


Along the way, he delivers delightful riffs on the butterfly. He explains how the insect adjusts its center of gravity for optimal gliding by taking on or expelling water for ballast. He finds monarchs easily travel thousands of miles in a few days, and confirms the theory that Western varieties do not all winter in California - some split off into Mexico.


Pyle's compact, evocative descriptions make you want to grab an atlas, jump in a car and hit the road. Of Utah's Black Rock Desert, he says, "It was black pumice and pudding pahoehoe, lava that looked a lot like dark-chocolate fudge abandoned in midswirl."


Peopling the landscape are river guides, border patrolmen, waitresses, Native Americans and writers who know the monarchs' whereabouts and their local habits. Monarchs, Pyle discovered, cross mountain ranges at will, and over-winter where they choose. But the rapid spread of development and the proliferation of herbicides make him fear for their future.


Chasing Monarchs: Migrating with the Butterflies of Passage, by Robert Michael Pyle, Houghton Mifflin Co., 215 Park Ave. South, New York, NY 10003. 289 pages, $24.


Copyright © 2000 HCN and John Rosapepe

High Country News Classifieds
  • SECLUDED COLORADO HIDEAWAY
    This passive solar home sits on 2 lots and offers an abundance of privacy and views while being only 15 minutes to downtown Buena Vista....
  • COMMUNICATIONS COORDINATOR
    Introduction: Grand Staircase Escalante Partners (GSEP) is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization with offices located in Kanab and Escalante, Utah. We are committed to the conservation...
  • CARETAKER
    2.0 acre homestead needing year-round caretaker in NE Oregon. Contact [email protected] for details.
  • MEMBERSHIP MANAGER
    For more information visit www. wyofile.com/careers/
  • THRIVING LOCAL HEALTH FOOD STORE FOR SALE
    Turn-key business opportunity. Successful well established business with room to grow. Excellent highway visibility.
  • DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR
    For more information, visit www.wyofile.com/careers/
  • STAFF ATTORNEY
    STAFF ATTORNEY POSITION OPENING www.westernlaw.org/about-us/clinic-interns-careers The Western Environmental Law Center (WELC) is a high-impact, nonprofit public interest environmental law firm with a 27-year legacy using...
  • PROJECT MANAGER
    Position Summary Join our Team at the New Mexico Land Conservancy! We're seeking a Project Manager who will work to protect land and water across...
  • SEEKING PROPERTY FOR BISON HERD
    Seeking additional properties for a herd of 1,000 AUM minimum. Interested in partnering with landowners looking to engage in commercial and/or conservation bison ranching. Location...
  • DIRECTOR OF PRODUCT AND MARKETING
    High Country News seeks a Director of Product and Marketing to join our senior team during an exciting chapter of innovation and growth. This individual...
  • WILDLIFE HAVEN
    Beautiful acreage with Teton Creek flowing through it. Springs and ponds, lots of trees, moose and deer. Property has barn. Easy access. approx. 33 acres.
  • ARIZONA CONSERVATION CORPS PROGRAM DIRECTOR
    Arizona Conservation Corps is seeking a Program Director in Flagstaff or Tucson
  • COPPER STAIN: ASARCO'S LEGACY IN EL PASO
    Tales from scores of ex-employees unearth the human costs of an economy that runs on copper.
  • EXPERT LAND STEWART
    Available for site conservator, property manager. View resume at http://skills.ojadigital.net.
  • CONSERVATIONIST? IRRIGABLE LAND?
    Stellar seed-saving NGO is available to serious partner. Package must include financial support. Details: http://seeds.ojaidigital.net.
  • CANYONLANDS FIELD INSTITUTE
    Colorado Plateau Natural & Human History Field Seminars. Lodge, river, hiking options. Small groups, guest experts.
  • WESTERN NATIVE SEED
    Specializing in native seeds and seed mixes for western states.
  • CHUCK BURR'S CULTUREQUAKE.COM BLOG
    Change will happen when we see a new way of living. Thinking to save the world.
  • COMING TO TUCSON?
    Popular vacation house, furnished, 2 bed/1 bath, yard, dog-friendly. Lee at [email protected] or 520-791-9246.
  • OJO CALIENTE COMMERCIAL VENTURE
    Outstanding location near the world famous Ojo Caliente Mineral Spring Resort. Classic adobe Mercantile complete w/living quarters, separate 6 unit B&B, metal building and spacious...