The annual Monarch Butterfly migration is a silent wonder of nature. Every fall, all the monarch butterflies in North America east of the Rockies head down to Mexico to spend the winter. Some may fly as far as 3000 miles, an incredible distance for a fragile insect to travel. Each day they travel 50 to 100 miles alone, but at sunset they come together in groups and rest in trees for the night. Each fall, we look for monarchs in the trees in the evenings, and are sometimes lucky enough to find large groups of them all hanging out together resting.
But what is truly amazing is that these butterflies have never made the trip before, and no one can tell them how to get there either. In fact they are at least 3 generations removed from the group of butterflies that migrated north from Mexico in the spring.
So here’s the deal. Monarchs only live about 2 months. Each summer sees 3 or 4 generations of monarchs. But the last generation of the summer, has a lifespan of about 7 months.
They start the long trip south starting in August and arriving in Mexico in late October. And not just anywhere in Mexico, but the same 12 mountain areas in the states of Mexico and Michoacan.
They roost on the trees, as many as 10,000 per tree, and conserve energy through the winter. In February, they reproduce, and then die. Their young then make the long trip back up into North America in the spring.
Through the summer, several generations pass, and then in the fall it starts all over again with the great-great-great-great-grandkids of the spring generation making the migration south.
So how do they know that they need to migrate, and how do they know how to get there? Even science doesn’t know for sure.
Truly an incredible journey. For more information about monarch butterflies and their fascinating migration, you can visit this website.
——>Upcoming Posts To Watch For:
**It’s time for the Soybean Harvest. Come along for another ride on the combine.
**More wild sunflowers in full bloom. This time it’s the Maximilian Sunflower – strange name but lovely flower.
**Travel the Backroads, dirt roads that are rarely traveled, but offer beautiful views of the countryside.