Blessing of the monarchs planned in Stonington

A monarch butterfly is pictured. (Escanaba Daily Press photo)

From Escanaba Daily Press

STONINGTON — UP Wild will be hosting a Blessing of the Monarchs Wednesday. Activities will commence at 5 p.m. at the Stonington Lighthouse. The event should last around 60 minutes and will be followed by snacks and refreshments.

Every year, the monarch butterflies make their long pilgrimage south from Canada and the Northern United States to Mexico. Central Upper Michigan, particularly the Stonington Peninsula, is one of the sites where they pause and rest along the journey.

UP Wild will gather at Stonington Lighthouse to offer them a safe passage. There will be special opening ceremony, and then, they will collectively offer them blessings and prayers for their long journey.

Bishop Rayford Ray of the Episcopal Diocese of Northern Michigan is planning to attend.

“The butterfly is a powerful symbol of the resurrection, and of life,” said Ray. “UP Wild will gather in prayer to honor the land and the water and nature itself.”

The Eastern Monarch Butterfly cannot tolerate the cold northern regions and must migrate to a warmer climate each year.

The last two weeks of August and the first two weeks of September is the traditional period for their annual migration to the Sierra Madre Mountains in Mexico, a journey of 2,500 to 3,000 miles. As they travel only by day, averaging 50 to 100 miles per day, their flight will take about five weeks.

The pilgrimage has a stopover at Stonington Point in early September where tens of thousands will pause before crossing the open water to Door County, Wisconsin. The Monarchs gather in trees and bushes for warmth as they rest and wait for conditions that will allow them to continue their journey south.

Monarchs are on the endangered species watch list. Their numbers are down by 90% owing to loss of habitat, pesticides, and climate change. According to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, the Monarchs alone provide for pollination of one third of the food supply. Worldwide, pollinating insects account for three-fourths of the global food supply.

“We are connected to the monarchs. It’s a two-way thing, and if they are going extinct, it effects all of us,” Ray said.


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