Plight of the Monarch to be shown

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The population decline of monarch butterflies has been steep and sudden throughout North America.


“We really noticed a decline in their numbers starting four years ago,” says fine art photographer Kirby Pringle of Tuscola, located 25 miles south of Champaign-Urbana. “We have friends in Canada and other parts of the United States and they were all saying the same thing — no one was seeing monarchs, certainly not in the numbers they’ve been seen in the past. It’s really alarming.”


To raise awareness of the rapidly declining monarch butterfly population, Kirby and his wife, Cindy, also a fine art photographer, made a 22-minute documentary, “Plight of the Monarch.” The film will be shown at 7 p.m. April 24 as part of the regular meeting of the Middlefork Audubon Society at the Danville Public Library, 319 N. Vermilion St., Danville. The event is free and open to the public.


The documentary looks at the causes behind the rapidly declining population of the monarch, the lifecycle of the butterfly and what people can do to help increase the number of monarchs. The husband-and-wife team will also talk about how they became interested in monarch butterflies and why they decided to make the film, which has been shown on the local PBS affiliate in Charleston, Ill.


The loss of milkweed throughout the Midwest is the major reason behind the population decline of the monarch, according to Kirby.


“Milkweed is the only plant on which the monarch butterfly lays its eggs and the only plant the caterpillar eats. If milkweed disappears, so will the monarch butterfly,” he adds.


“We did the filming in 2012, with all the camerawork taking place in Central Illinois. We put the finishing touches on it in early 2013 ” Kirby says. “The documentary is more timely than ever. The overwintering population of monarch butterflies in Mexico last winter was the smallest on record. In 2012, we saw our first monarch butterflies in Central Illinois on May 2. In 2013, we did not see our first monarch until June 26.”


The Pringles specialize in photographs of “dog people,” canines with humanlike features. They are the authors of the three-book “Happy Tails” series that stars Earl and Pearl Barker. The couple use their own dogs as their models. The couple have worked together as professional photographers for more than 23 years. Their work has been seen on everything from greeting cards to books to billboards.


They will also have copies of their newest book available for purchase, “The Butterfly That Would Not Fly.” In the book, Pearl Barker finds a monarch butterfly that’s afraid of heights. Pearl and her husband, Earl, try to help the butterfly overcome its fear so that it can migrate to Mexico and join millions of other overwintering monarchs. The documentary film was an outgrowth of the work on the book.


“Hopefully things like our documentary film and book will help people realize what’s going on and the steps that we all have to take in order to save monarch butterflies for future generations,” Cindy Pringle says.


Please go to for more information about the Pringles.



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Fran Hurst wrote on February 20, 2018 at 6:02 am

I waited for the Plight of the Monarch for such a long time. Initially, the lads at spoke about its unveiling which certainly started tempting me. And I was enticed from early on.

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