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Journal Le Haut-Saint-François
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Mercredi, 13 août 2014


By Rachel Garber

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This is about the humble milkweed, or, if you please, about the plight of the butterfly. The Monarch butterfly, to be specific.

It was one of the joys of my childhood to see the distinctive butterflies, with wingspans of almost four inches and orange and black patterns decorating their wings. Or I'd see the yellow, white and black striped caterpillars eating milkweed leaves. And then the lime-green cocoons.

What I didn't see was the mysterious flight of thousands of miles to Mexico. It's the Methuselah generation of Monarchs that goes  - it lives some nine months, instead of just four weeks. They winter there, grouped together in huge colonies. In my childhood, they'd appear in Canada again in spring. It takes them four generations to make the trip back to Canada.

Once here they look for milkweed plants. That's where they lay their eggs. That's what they eat as caterpillars, and that's what protects them from predators. It seems they ingest contains poisonous glycosides from the milkweed. It makes them taste so bad that nobody wants to eat them, either in their caterpillar or their butterfly incarnations.

But the Monarch butterflies are struggling, even if not officially declared endangered. What is endangered is the migration - and that affects our population of Monarchs in Canada. In 1997, the Monarch Survey in Mexico found 18.19 hectares occupied by butterfly colonies. In 2012, they covered only 1.12 hectares. In December 2013, even less, just 0.6 hectares. That's down 44 per cent in one year.

Is that because we have done such a good job of controlling our weeds, and with them, milkweeds? Another of my childhood joys was playing with the milkweed seedpods, and the little seeds, airborne on their fluffy hair. It's been awhile since I've seen much of that.

Other culprits for the Monarch migration collapse have been fingered. Global warming with extreme climate fluctuations. Deforestation in Mexico. But experts agree milkweed scarcity is a problem. There's a whole movement in southern Canada to jumpstart a comeback of the humble milkweed, and give the Monarch migration a new foothold.

I've received a stream of emails this summer offering to sell me milkweed seeds to plant, to help revive the milkweed population, and with it, the Monarch butterfly population. But, I thought, rather than buying seeds, why not salvage them from milkweed plants in my neighbourhood?

So I began stalking milkweed. I found some, yes, here and there, usually along roadsides. Some of them have already been mowed down. We do such a good job, don't we, of mowing down the vegetation along our roads?

I wonder if our municipalities would participate in saving the humble milkweed, and bringing back the Monarch butterflies? Can we somehow stop mowing down the milkweed plants?

Of special note to farmers: Monarchs play a role in pollinating plants. Some of them are plants that people rely on for food. Such our current wonder crop, corn. Let's not cut down the milkweed we depend on.


The Loisirs 4 Horizons recreation committee has organized a walking activity in various areas of Newport - Island Brook, Randboro, Saint-Mathias-de-Bonneterre and Lawrence. It's good for the body, and good for the soul, too. The idea is to immerse yourself in nature, and explore some picturesque or historical areas that are off the beaten track. And to do this in a small group of friendly folks.

The group meets every Tuesday and Thursday at 10 a.m. during the summer, usually in the parking lot of the Municipal Hall in Island Brook, at 1452 Route 212. Special outings are announced on the group's Facebook page,, or by email from Francine Rouleau,


Loisirs 4 Horizons has also organized friendly softball games every Sunday afternoon at the ball park in Island Brook, 1452 Route 212. Children and adults, players of all ages and all levels are welcome. Gloves are welcome. Cheerleaders are welcome. It's fun for all. The game begins at 1:30 p.m. Info: Melissa or Martin Tétreault at 819-889-1082.


Meals on Wheels is up and rolling again in Bury. Julie Gervais is offering it from the restaurant at the Pen-y-Bryn Golf Club. It's a service arranged by the Centre d'action bénévole (Volunteer Action Centre). For $7.50 total, you get a hot meal, complete with soup and dessert delivered to your door every Tuesday. If you or someone you know might be interested, please contact Rachel Garber at the CAB, at 819-560-8540 option 9 to register.


A Tale of the Townships. If you like stories, you'll love the Eaton Corner Museum's new permanent exhibition. It's called A Tale of the Townships, and it is open Wednesday to Sunday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., until mid-October. Entrance is $8 for adults, $6 for seniors, and $4 for children (maximum $20 per family). Info: 819-875-5256, or visit


Anglican: The four Anglican congregations in the Haut-Saint-François meet at 10:30 a.m. in a different church each Sunday. On the first Sunday of the month, services are at St. Peter's in Cookshire. Second Sundays are at St. John's in Brookbury. Third Sundays are at St. Paul's in Bury. Fourth Sundays are at Christ Church in Canterbury (819-239-6902).

Baptist: In Sawyerville, the worship service is at 9 a.m. in French, and 11 a.m. in English. Sunday school is at 10 a.m. in English and French. The bi-weekly and bilingual Children's Community Club meets on Saturday August 16 and 30, and September 13 and 27, from 2 to 3:30 p.m., at the church, 33 Cookshire St. (819-239-8818).

United: Sunday service and Sunday school are at Sawyerville United on August 17; at Cookshire United on August 24; and at East Clifton United on August 31. All services are at 10:30 a.m. Info: 819-889-2838.

Do you have news to share? Call 819-300-2374 or email by August 18 for publication August 27 and by September 2 for September 10.

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