Why so few Monarch butterflies?

I have been working on several pieces for an exhibit on extinction. The exhibit is one of many that will be happening throughout this year to mark the 100 year anniversary of the death of the very last Passenger Pigeon. "Martha" died in captivity in the Cincinnati Zoo in 1914. 

Some scientists are proposing that we are living in the age of the Sixth Extinction or the Holocene. And unlike previous waves of mass extinctions on earth, this one is driven by humans. 

Monarch Butterfly numbers have been plummeting in recent years due to loss of habitat. I have recently become a member over at Monarch Watch and have registered our yard as Monarch Waystation Habitat. We have monarchs come to our yard every year, but yes, last year I noticed the low numbers. So I made the painting above trying to address some of the feelings associated with a biological loss of this sort. If you live in the Midwestern US or Canada, I urge you to plant some native flowers in your backyard. I'm not very optimistic these days about where this is all headed, but still choose to be hopeful that even little actions like this can help and that it is worth it. 

* 4/1/2014 update: This is now available as a print HERE

From The Tiny Aviary