This fall I have noticed many Monarch Butterflies gracefully flying about in my pastures and yard. Don't recall noticing so many, if any during certain years, in the past. Hopefully my little farm is now in the migratory path! While watching these beautiful creatures the other day, I wondered how they could migrate to Mexico if their life cycle is only two to six weeks.
Curiosity got the best of me and I did a little research. It seems butterflies produce four generations during the summer. My suspicions concerning migration were partially correct in that it takes multiple generations to make the journey. The journey north, that is. Three generations are needed to make the northward trip. BUT, to my surprise, it only takes one generation to fly south back to Mexico or southern California! Seems this fourth generation is special! It can live up to nine months. Butterflies east of the Rocky Mountains will migrate to Mexico, while butterflies west of the Rocky Mountains migrate to southern California. In North America there is a third geographically distinct population. This is the Central American population that migrates northward to southern Canada from Mexico. Millions of butterflies make this trip each fall with tens of thousands roosting in a single tree along the way.
1. How far do they travel in a single day? 50 to 100 miles
2. How long does the journey south take? Up to 2 months
3. Monarchs cannot fly when their body temperature is less than 86 degrees. They will sit in the sun or let their wings shiver until their body temperature rises.
To help report sightings and follow the tracking of migration for the Monarchs and other animals, check out this site: www.learner.org/north/maps/monarch.html
Cheers and God Bless!
Artist, Gardener, Writer