Thom Smith | NatureWatch: More monarchs spotted in region this summer

Thinking back on the numbers of monarch butterflies we saw in the Northeast in 2015 and 2016, I saw only one. This past summer, many were seen and has offered hope that they may still have a chance. Last July, I saw as many as seven monarchs at one time flying about the many milkweed plants and wildflowers along Crane Avenue at the GEAA golf course. And because I planted three varieties of milkweed in our back-yard flower gardens, I was able to gather a few monarch caterpillars to raise and release. Silly as it may sound, it crossed my mind that one individual somehow recognized me. After releasing the adult butterflies, that my wife Susan and I closely watched and photographed in a tall aquarium/vivarium, we began seeing two for the first time at flowers grown on our deck. My questioning (face) recognition comes from my ability to get to less than 10 inches to one exploring and feeding at the flowers. As I watched, it would fly from time to time to each flower, and showed no fear of me. I guess its recognition was only wishful thinking, but I will be planting more common milkweed, although all scientists studying their population problem are not in agreement that lack of milkweed is a major factor. Some believe ecosystem disruption on winter grounds in Mexico is the major cause of smaller numbers, while others are concerned that it is both.


Clean water is neither a Republican or Democrat problem. Left or right, it is everyone's responsibility. And clean water really doesn't look good in the United States and didn't, even before the present hurricane season. Too few of us get deep enough into the news to learn of the political implications surrounding clean water.

Below are just some of the actions taken by President Donald Trump's executive branch in July and August as related by Clean Water Action ( :

- EPA formally moves forward on rescinding the Clean Water Rule, which protects drinking water for 117 million Americans.

- EPA moves to roll back limits on toxic water pollution from coal-fired power plants.

- Department of Homeland Security waives environmental protections for President Donald Trump's proposed border wall.

- Department of the Interior proposes to shrink some national monuments. This will remove protections and open up land for mining or drilling.

- Trump Administration ends Climate Advisory Panel.

- Department of Energy manipulates energy grid study to boost coal industry.

- President Donald Trump signs an executive order to remove flood protections from new construction projects.

- Department of the Interior halts health impact study for communities who live near mountaintop removal mining.

If you choose to opt for clean water, write to your members of Congress to stand up to attacks on our health and environment. To keep abreast with actions affecting clean water, go to

Thom Smith welcomes readers' questions and comments. Email him at or write him care of The Berkshire Eagle, 75 S. Church St., Pittsfield, MA 01201.


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