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


That is also the major reason why Kirby and Cindy Pringle give presentations about the monarch butterfly around the country. The population of the butterfly is so low that its future could be in jeopardy.


“We really noticed a decline in their numbers starting three years ago,” says fine art photographer Kirby Pringle. “We have friends in Canada and other parts of the United States and they’re saying the same thing — no one is seeing monarchs, certainly not in the numbers they’ve been seen in the past. It’s really alarming.”


Recent populations studies confirm the drastic population decrease of the monarch. The overwintering population in Mexico now covers an area of only 1.65 acres — an all-time low from when studies began in 1994. That is down drastically from the winter of 1996-97 when the population was spread out over nearly 52 acres at their reserves in the mountains of central Mexico.


To help raise awareness of the decline of the monarch butterfly population, Kirby and his wife, Cindy, also a fine art photographer, have made a 22-minute documentary, “Plight of the Monarch.” Before showing the film at events, the couple give a brief talk about why they decided to make the film, the causes of the population drop and what can be done to reverse the trend. Afterward, they answer questions from the audience.


The documentary looks at the crucial role of milkweed in the lifecycle of the monarch, the different life stages of the butterfly’s development and what people can do to help increase the population. The husband-and-wife team also have expertise on growing milkweed, how to find monarch butterfly eggs and properly raise them to adults for release into the wild.


“We did the filming last year, with all the camerawork taking place in Central Illinois. We put the finishing touches on it earlier this year ” Kirby Pringle 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 — and we saw very few monarchs throughout the season.”


The Pringles, who have a photography studio in Tuscola, Illinois, four years ago started a Butterfly Nursery in the same building. The two — mostly the eagle-eyed Cindy — collect monarch butterfly eggs in the wild and bring them to the nursery. They are raised from eggs to caterpillars to adult butterflies and then released back into the wild. They have raised and released monarch butterflies for the past 15 years.


“Monarch butterfly eggs and caterpillars are extremely susceptible to predation by other insects like the stink bug, the assassin beetle and the green lacewing larva. The survival rate from egg to adult butterfly is less than 10 percent — some scientists say the rate is even lower and on the order of 1 percent. The purpose of the nursery is both educational and to help in any way we can to boost the monarch population,” Cindy Pringle says.


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 two have worked together as professional photographers for 24 years. Their work has been seen on everything from greeting cards to books to billboards.


Their newest book, “The Butterfly That Would Not Fly,” features a story about 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 their work on the book.


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


Over the past year, they’ve given their presentation to service groups, Audubon Society chapters, garden clubs, schools and more, from Florida to northern Illinois. The standard fee is $150, which covers expenses and time. Contact the Pringles at Pringle.Photography@gmail.com or call them at 217-689-4575 to schedule a presentation for your group or organization.

 
Our 2014 Schedule (check back for updates)
  1. Bullet March 16, Talk and presentation of documentary, “Plight of the Monarch” at 2 p.m. to the Starved Rock Audubon Society, LaSalle, Ill.

  2. Bullet April 3, Talk and presentation of documentary, “Plight of the Monarch” at 7 p.m., Champaign County Audubon Society, Urbana Public Library, Urbana, Ill.

  3. Bullet April 14, Talk and presentation of documentary, “Plight of the Monarch” at 7 p.m., Villa Grove United Methodist Women, Villa Grove, Ill.

  4. Bullet April 24, Talk and presentation of documentary, “Plight of the Monarch” at 7 p.m., Middle Fork Chapter Audubon Society, Danville Public Library, Danville, Ill.

  5. Bullet April 25, Talk and presentation of documentary, “Plight of the Monarch” at 2 p.m., Environmental Education Association of Illinois Conference, Kennekuk County Park, Vermilion County Conservation District, Danville, Ill.

  6. Bullet April 29, 9:30 a.m., Talk and presentation of documentary, “Plight of the Monarch,” Kiwanians, Scovill Golf Course Banquet Hall, Decatur, Ill.

  7. Bullet May 4, 5 to 6:30 p.m., Talk and presentation of documentary, “Plight of the Monarch,” Backyard Abundance, East Side Recycling Center, Iowa City, Iowa.

  8. Bullet May 5, 7 p.m., Talk and presentation of documentary, “Plight of the Monarch,” Cedar Rapids Audubon Society, Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

  9. Bullet May 9, Talk and presentation of documentary, “Plight of the Monarch” at 2 p.m., St. Mary’s School, Taylorville, Ill.

  10. Bullet May 10, Talk and presentation of documentary, “Plight of the Monarch” at 2 p.m., Urbana Park District, Anita Purves Nature Center, Urbana, Ill.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zZKbZdLtBoM
Watch our new documentary, “Plight of the Monarch” on YouTube! Click here!http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zZKbZdLtBoM
  1. Bullet May 15, Talk and presentation of documentary, “Plight of the Monarch” at 7 p.m., Springfield Audubon Society, Adams Wildlife Sanctuary, Springfield, Ill.

  2. Bullet July 12-13, Sugar Creek Arts Festival, Uptown Normal, Ill.

  3. Bullet Aug. 9 (Aug. 10 rain date), Talk and presentation of documentary, “Plight of the Monarch” at 1 p.m., Wildlife Prairie Park, Hanna City, Ill.

  4. Bullet Aug. 30, Talk and multiple presentations of documentary, “Plight of the Monarch,” 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Sugar Grove Nature Center, Funks Grove, Ill.

  5. Bullet Sept. 20-21, Edwards Place Fine Art Fair, Edwards Place, Springfield Art Association, Springfield, Ill.

  6. Bullet Sept. 23, Talk and presentation of documentary, “Plight of the Monarch” at 10 a.m., Douglas-Hart Nature Center, Mattoon, Ill.

  7. Bullet Oct. 2, Talk and presentation of documentary, “Plight of the Monarch” at 7 p.m., Champaign County Forest Preserve District, Lake of the Woods Forest Preserve, Museum of the Grand Prairie, Mahomet, Ill.

  8. Bullet Oct. 19, Talk and presentation of the documentary, “Plight of the Monarch” at 2 p.m., Decatur Audubon Society, Rock Springs Nature Center, Decatur, Ill.

  9. Bullet Oct. 29, Talk and presentation of the documentary, “Plight of the Monarch,” 1 p.m., National Campus Sustainability Day, Parkland College, Champaign, Ill.

  10. Bullet Nov. 16 & 17, Annual Craft League of Champaign-Urbana Art Fair, Urbana Civic Center, Urbana, Ill.

  11. Bullet Dec. 3, Talk and presentation of documentary, “Plight of the Monarch” at 12 p.m., Books Between Bites, Decatur Public Library, Decatur, Ill.

We give presentations on the monarch butterfly

© 2014 Cindy and Kirby Pringle/Dogtown Artworks

Lori Casey of WEIU-TV, left, with Kirby and Cindy Pringle of Dogtown Artworks

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