The monarch butterfly, Danaus plexippus, is perhaps the most popular butterfly in the world. Its large size and contrasting orange and black coloration make it highly recognizable and its annual migration of up to 3,000 miles south make it seen by more people than perhaps any other species of butterfly in the world.
I have had a lifelong fascination with lepidoptera, the study of butterflies and moths. Ever since I received a kit for Christmas for collecting them when I was seven, I have been hooked. As a child I have many great memories of being out with my net collecting various species of local butterflies. Then, at night, I would be out again checking out the local street lights seeing what moths were attracted and wondering why, if moths only flew at night, were they were so attracted to lights? As the years went on I started to notice a pattern. The places where I used to collect were no longer available as they had been renovated for new houses, shopping centers and condominiums. I also noticed something else…the numbers of wild species flying around were not there anymore! It was obvious that this habitat destruction was taking its toll. This was when my attitude towards butterflies and moths changed. Even as a child it was obvious we were hurting the environment.