Endangered, Vulnerable or Threatened, Oh My!

Like Sara Dykman’s journey in her book, Bicycling with Butterflies, monarch butterflies face a perilous journey of survival. If you’ve followed our blog this past month, you might wonder if monarch butterflies are an endangered species.

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, a bureau within the Department of the Interior and the premier government agency dedicated to the conservation, protection, and enhancement of fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats, the answer is, sadly, not yet.

On December 15, 2020, the bureau announced that while listing the Monarch as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act is warranted, the Monarch is still just a candidate in this process and its status remains under review annually until a decision is made.

Under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), plant and animal species may be listed as either endangered or threatened. “Endangered” means a species is in danger of extinction. “Threatened” means a species is likely to become endangered within the foreseeable future.’

You can read the latest about the status of Monarchs here: News Releases – U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (fws.gov) and learn more about the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s conservation efforts here: Assessing the status of the monarch butterfly (fws.gov)

Knowledge is power. Consider yourself armed with it and decide what you can do to help protect monarch butterflies!

Butterflies – Visitors from Beyond?

If you’ve ever lost someone close to you, perhaps you like to imagine that their spirit is visiting you when a butterfly crosses your path. I know I do. It turns out that there is a good reason for that.

According to the smart folks at Baylor University, since Ancient times, the winged form of a butterfly was a symbol for the human soul. You can see this symbolism in Ancient Egypt, the Ancient Greek civilization and in Native American cultures, among others. One example comes from the The Aztecs, who believed that happy dead, in the form of beautiful butterflies, would visit their relatives to assure them that all was well.

In Andalusian Spain, an heir was expected to throw wine over the ashes of the deceased as a toast to the butterfly that would escape with the soul.

Butterflies are also symbolic in Christian imagery. In depictions of the Garden of Eden, the soul of Adam is symbolized by a butterfly, or drawn with butterfly wings, and the Gnostics depicted the Angel of Death by showing a winged foot stepping on a butterfly.

Sara Dykman, in Bicycling with Butterflies, must have felt blessed indeed with all the “souls” she witnessed on her 10,000 journey following migrating Monarchs. Have you started reading yet?

I’m inspired to hang out with butterflies, and this weekend I plan to head to the Butterfly House at the Miller Nature Preserve, part of the Lorain County Metroparks. Visiting the Butterfly House is free and open to the public from mid-June through Labor Day. I can’t wait!

For more inspiration, plan to keep reading all about butterflies with us this month. Until next time, keep looking up! ~Carol

Adventure Cycling: One Book, One City

Biologist, outdoor educator, and author of Bicycling with Butterflies: My 10,201-Mile Journey Following the Monarch Migration, Sara Dykman, rode an impressive distance on her bicycle to follow the monarch butterfly migration. My first thought when hearing about this immense feat was- how in the world did she bike that far?! As someone who only bikes around my neighborhood, and occasionally a bike trail in the Cleveland Metroparks, I couldn’t fathom riding thousands of miles across the country on a bike. Naturally, being a librarian and all, I was inspired to take a look at how one might go about such a trip and tips for embarking on your own adventure cycling trip!

Image from https://www.adventurecycling.org/blog/from-the-magazine-following-the-monarchs/

Dykman was not new to bike touring, as she shares in this article from Treehugger. She says, “I was actually on a year-long bike tour, traveling from Bolivia to the United States when I first had the idea to follow the monarch butterflies.” She also shares a bit about her bike in the article, describing it as, “… an old, rusty steel mountain bike frame from the ‘80s, the components were newish, cleanish, and ready to get me down the road. Most people were shocked at how unfancy my bike was, especially when it was saddled with my homemade kitty-litter-bucket panniers. It might not have been light or pretty, but my no-frills bike is a reliable machine.” 

Dykman took extensive photos on her trip and you can check them out on her website here and see all the places she’s biked!

If you are feeling inspired to do your own adventure biking trip but aren’t sure where to start, you’ll want to work your way up to long distances. Whether you have an old mountain bike or a fancy new all-terrain bike, you’ll want to get your bike in tip-top shape before you venture out. Here is a list of tips from Adventurecycling.org on items to contemplate prior to setting out on your trip.

  • Make final purchases of clothing and equipment.
  • Make certain that all repairs and maintenance, including lubrication, are made on your bike.
  • Buy an extra pair of glasses, or contacts, and get a copy of your prescription.
  • Continue your training rides, working up to 50- to 70-mile day rides on weekends. (You might try for a century — 100 miles in a day — if you’re taking a trip of more than three weeks.) Seek out hills and varied terrain, attempting to simulate the type of riding you’ll encounter on your tour, and do some rides with fully loaded packs to test for proper weight distribution.
  • Make arrangements for paying any monthly bills coming due during your absence.
  • Make sure you have used all your equipment and know how it works. Make all final adjustments to your bike.
  • Continue training rides; try to do at least one overnight “shakedown” trip with a fully loaded bike. It’s better to discover and take care of problems before your tour begins.
  • Pack your bike in a reinforced box and ship it, if it’s not traveling with you.
  • Pick up your travel tickets.
  • Buy traveler’s checks for emergency and spending money.
  • Fill medical prescriptions to last longer than your trip.
  • Cancel your newspaper delivery.
  • Change mail delivery or have mail held at the post office.
Image from Adventurecycling.org

You can find travel tips for your first bike tour here from The Adventure Junkies. There are plenty of great blogs out there that you can check out with information on bikepacking, adventure cycling, and bike touring such as Cycling About and Bikepacking.

For more resources, we have plenty of great materials at the library, including a variety of digital cycling magazines you can access from the comfort of home.

Finally, we recently had Deltrece Daniels from Bike Cleveland offer a virtual program all about Adventure Cycling. Keep your eyes peeled on this blog for that recording in the coming weeks.

Have you ever taken a long distance biking trip? Are you planning one? We’d love to hear about your adventure cycling, so please share with us in the comments!

Tracking Monarch Butterflies: One Book, One City

Monarch butterflies are a beautiful, amazing, and unique type of insect. They are the only butterfly to migrate thousands of miles twice a year like birds do, going south in the winter and north in the spring. Find more information from the U. S. Forest Service on monarch butterflies here.

Monarch butterflies resting on a tree trunk.

This spring and summer, you can help keep track of the monarch butterflies in our very own Rocky River!

An organization called Journey North, based out of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Arboretum, keeps track of monarch butterfly migrations in real time across the country. You can report monarch sightings here, helping them keep track of these beautiful insects on their long migration.

On their website, you can find maps of the first monarch butterflies seen in a given area, the first appearance of monarch eggs and larva, and the first sighting of milkweed plants. Below is a map of the first adult monarch butterfly sightings in 2021 – click on the image below to be taken to Journey North’s interactive map, where you can click ‘Play’ to see the progression of the migration through this past spring:

Monarch Adult (first sighted) 2021 map from Journey North.

Keep checking back throughout the month of July for more blog posts that will tie in to our summer 2021 One Book, One City read, Bicycling with Butterflies by Sara Dykman.

One Book, One City 2021

Bicycling with Butterflies: My 10,201-Mile Journey Following the Monarch Migration

It’s summer, so hopefully there is more time to relax and read. The Rocky River Public Library invites adults and teens to read Bicycling with Butterflies by Sara Dykman as part of our “Tails and Tales” summer reading program.

In addition to reading the book, it’s a chance to do a little research on monarch butterflies using the library’s databases. They are available at https://rrpl.org/research-tools/ under “Newspapers & Magazines”. I heartily recommend the “National Geographic” index which offers full-text articles from 1888-1994. Another excellent source is EBSCOhost. (Some of National Geographic is also included in EBSCOhost.) In that source patrons have access to hundreds of full-text magazines. You can limit your search to articles with full color photographs. You can limit your search to “cover story” articles.

It’s my suggestion to check out the databases before beginning the adventure shared in Bicycling with Butterflies.

~Emma