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Read in the New York Times today about how scientists are trying to help the monarch butterfly make a comeback. This was one of the moments where I realize how little I know about nature. As a caterpillar this insect only eats milkweed. No milkweed. No caterpillar. No monarch. I grew up in the country with plenty of milkweed. I was surrounded by monarch butterflies by the hundreds. In fact, it was rare not to see one during the warm months.

Now a half century later I take note when I see a monarch. This year I saw two. I photographed one flying around a coastal oak tree. Compared to the other butterflies in the area, the monarch is a 747, truly regal in its presence.

But the scientists claim the disappearance of the monarch “is not crucial to the balance of nature.” The reasons for the decline are linked to loss of cropland, drought, pesticides—the usual suspects. We should worry about them as another sign of our planet’s decline.

There is also the “out of sight, out of mind factor.” We are accustomed to not seeing the monarch and, as a result, we have forgotten it, so say those trying save the throne. Who’s next?

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