Phoenix is a hotspot for pollinator people. We connected with Robert Coffan (of Southern Oregon Monarch Advocates), Kristina Lefever (of Pollinator Project Rogue Valley), and friends. A few days before we arrived, Robert called me up and said he was rearing a monarch and that we could release it if we’d like. Teeming with excitement, Ursa and I brainstormed a name for her. No kidding: we both independently thought of the same name: “Naranja.”
Our morning reunion was a real highlight of the trip. The audio is an excerpt from the conversation we had about monarchs and the geology of this region: most notably, the convergence of five mountain ranges in the Cascade-Siskiyous area which creates the conditions for one of the most biodiverse ecosystems in the country. When it was time to release Naranja, we tagged her wing (for a research study by entomologist David James) and took her to some nearby wildflowers. When I let her go, she stayed on my hands and very slowly beat her wings several times as if communicating in a kinetic language: “Nos vemos en Santa Cruz!” Then she stepped onto an aster and into the wild. For me, it was truly a magical moment of multispecies connection. “Sí, nos vemos allá, Naranja!”
After the release, we visited PPRV HQ and had a nice interview with Kristina and her co-worker, Ethan. They talked about the importance of native pollinators and their environmental programs such as the Rogue Buzzway. What a great visit!
-Ale and Ursa