Orange and Black and Fly, Oh My!

By mid Oct. we usually start to see about 20 little Monarch futterbys per day.  Each day after until Nov. they increase in numbers and sometimes varieties.  The Halloween colored beauties are flitting by my house on their journey to central Mexico, I enjoy seeing them pass.   They fly over 2,500 miles to the warmer climates in the mountain’s forests.  They weigh just a ½ gram these fragile frequent flyers.

Monarch butterflies use the same trees from year to year when they migrate.  This is odd because they aren’t the same butterflies each year. They are a new fourth generation of monarch butterflies.  How do they know which trees are the right ones to hibernate in?  Nature is amazing!   Monarch butterflies are unique.  They are the only insect that migrates to a warmer climate. They wait out the winter in Mexico only to return to the US and Canada in the spring.  In March they head out north, looking for a mate, and laying their eggs on milkweed plants, growing in northern Mexico and extreme southern parts of the US.   

There are 2 reasons the Monarch migrates. #1.  They can’t withstand the freezing weather in the northern and central continental climates in the cold months of winter. #2.  The larval food plants that they eat from do not grow in their winter overwintering sites. Therefore, the spring generation must fly back where the plants are plentiful.

The Monarch overwintering sites are under threat because of people cutting down their favorite trees to build roads, houses and farms. What will happen to the monarchs if they do not have their special trees to spend the winter? There are groups that collect money to save the important trees and educate people about monarch conservation.  You can learn more about helping monarchs here: http://www.monarch-butterfly.com/monarch-conservation.html

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