milkweed plants are pretty prolific here in this neck of the woods. every spring, i leave several plants to grow in the yard and in the garden. around here, milkweed is the food of choice for monarch caterpillars as they grow. they feast on the leaves midsummer and then, when it's time, they go into their chrysalis formation right there on the plant, firmly attached to a stem or a leaf, their casings brilliant green with a glittering band of gold. most years there are many, many monarchs here, in various stages of growth. this year, despite my best investigative efforts, i can find not a one. zero. zip. nada.
abrupt changes like this worry me, especially where nature is concerned. i have not researched this to see if there's a reason, but i hope this is just a local phenomenon and pray that it's simply a one-year anomaly. spring was too cold. it snowed at the end of may. the summer was too wet. something like that.
on a related note, last year i took a monarch caterpillar and the milkweed plant it lived on to the little girl's school so her class could observe the transformation firsthand. the creature died. i felt badly then. i feel worse now.