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The Monarchs Were Missing This Summer ... Roundup and Weather to Blame

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Bob Gobeil, a volunteer for the Maine Butterfly Survey, and his wife Rose Marie traipse through fields of yellow and purple wildflowers past an old clapboard farmhouse. Bald eagles soar overhead.

"These fields should be full of flying monarchs because of the amount of milkweed, literally acres, it's almost perfect for butterflies," Gobeil said. "If you're looking for monarchs, milkweed is the key."

With its white sap, cottony seeds and big green leaves, it's the one plant that one of the continent's most familiar butterflies can't live without. But this year, even in this forest of milkweed, no monarchs. Monarch butterflies have nearly disappeared from much of their range this year.

"The monarch is so bright," Rose Marie said. "It's large, and it's usually in abundance. So people just see it. But to have that absence is really strange".

The reports are the same all across the country - few or no monarchs in places where they should be common.

A couple of hundred miles south, school kids use magic markers to color paper monarchs at the Boston Nature Center, an oasis of meadows and forest in the heart of the city.

Here, too, the real thing is missing. Karen First is a member of the Monarch Teacher Network, a group that uses butterflies to teach kids about nature.

"It's been very, very quiet in the butterfly garden at the Boston Nature Center this summer. In years past, it's been teeming with butterflies," she said. "And it's that silence that really began to alarm me."    
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