What causes these beautiful butterflies of the sky to migrate? What is the trigger? How do these majestic insects know to lift their wings to the wind and travel collectively thousands of miles to the south to lay their eggs and reproduce their species? Millions of monarchs migrate from Canada and the U. S. to their southern destinations of California and Mexico to spend the winter in warmer climates. Some monarchs fly as many as 3,000 miles. We must consult entomologists to begin understanding the causation of this fantastic act of nature.

First, it is necessary to learn a few facts concerning these incredible insects. They are not only beautiful with orange and black wings and white dots around the edge of their wings, but in flight, they appear to float as they gracefully flutter in flight. They are not to be confused with a much smaller butterfly with similar coloring and pattern called “viceroy”. Monarchs have been studied intensely by entomologists, and quite a lot is known about them. It is interesting to note that although they are attractive in every sense of the word, their color pattern warns predators that they do not taste good, and they are poisonous. This is caused from their diet of the toxic milkweed where they exclusively lay their eggs.

However, what causes their migration is still a bit of a mystery. This phenomena has been called “one of the most spectacular phenomena in the world.” In September through October, 500,000 of these beautiful orange and black butterflies gracefully lift their wings, and fly south to California or the mountains of Mexico to breed and lay their eggs on milkweed. The larvae (caterpillar) eat the milkweed. Then, through a metamorphic miracle, these caterpillars become monarch butterflies that know to fly back to their original habitats in order to preserve their species. After going through its final stage as a butterfly, it only lives from 2 to 6 weeks.

The natural world is, indeed, a fascinating puzzle, and perhaps it is not meant for us to know everything about these gorgeous ballerinas of the air. However, it is quite all-right to ponder and contemplate how these creatures of nature know to simultaneously fly south to reproduce, and their young, in due time, instinctively know to fly north.

Sources:

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/invertebrates/m/monarch-butterfly/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monarch_butterfly_migration

https://www.monarch-butterfly.com/

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