978-0-375-70194-8 / 9780375701948

Four Wings and a Prayer: Caught in the Mystery of the Monarch Butterfly





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About the book:

Sue Halpern, a gifted student of the natural world, has a knowing passion for butterflies--"not love, exactly, offered suddenly, but a similar quickening of heart and desire ... tugging on my imagination as if it were a loose sleeve."

In Four Wings and a Prayer, that passion takes flight in quest of the monarch, a species of butterfly suddenly much in the news. In the company of freelance biologist Bill Calvert, ecologist Homero Aridjis, and other scientists and activists, Halpern travels into the highlands of Michoacan, Mexico, to which monarchs born east of the Rocky Mountains migrate each autumn, flying as much as 200 miles a day to get there before the onset of the highland winter. There she ponders the complexities of the monarch's life--after all, she writes, "how did the monarch butterflies from the eastern United States and Canada, millions of them, end up every year in the same unlikely spot, a remote and largely inhospitable fifty acres of oyamelis pine forest?"--and the unfortunate events that have felled monarchs by the untold millions in recent years, including the destruction of habitat and climate change.

Halpern's enthusiasm for Lepidoptera is catching, and her graceful advocacy of the monarch should inspire renewed concern for their well-being in the world. --Gregory McNamee

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