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Tuesday’s Teachings: Monarchs & Milkweed and everything in between!

October 11, 2020

The monarchs are starting to migrate out of our area this week, so in memory of them leaving we thought we’d share a little info about them!

  • As temps begin to cool off, millions of monarchs start their migration south to Southern California or Central Mexico. Some travel 2,000 miles away!
  • Scientists aren’t sure how migrating monarchs know which way to go since they only live a few months, meaning none of them make the journey more than once.
  • Toward the end of winter, the monarchs in Mexico and California mate. The males then die, while the females head north, laying eggs on milkweed plants along the way before eventually dying themselves.
  • From these tiny, round eggs come small green-and-white-striped caterpillars that feed on milkweed leaves.
  • Milkweed (genus Asclepias) is the primary food source for the caterpillar stage  ** Food for thought: The butterflies get their toxins from the milkweed, so when an animal eats them, even though the animal doesn’t die, it usually feels sick enough to avoid monarchs in the future **
  • The entire egg-to-butterfly process, called metamorphosis, takes about a month.
  • Once they emerge as a butterfly, they survive by drinking nectar from flowers, including milkweed.
  • Most adult monarchs only live for a few weeks, and spend their time searching for food in the form of flower nectar, for mates, and for milkweed to lay their eggs on.
  • The last generation that hatches in late summer delays sexual maturity and undertakes a spectacular fall migration, one of the few insects to do so. Crazy enough, this migratory generation can live upward of eight months!
  • The monarch migration is one of the greatest phenomena in the natural world. Monarchs know the correct direction to migrate even though the butterflies that migrate have never made the journey before. They follow an internal “compass” that points them in the right direction each spring and fall.
  • One easy way to help the monarch population is to plant a monarch habitat garden filled with native milkweed and nectar-producing flowers.

#savethemonarch #butterflies #milkweed #asclepias #nowyouknow #tuesdaysteachings #monarchs

Source Credit: https://kids.nationalgeographic.com/animals/invertebrates/insects/monarch-butterfly/
Source Credit: https://www.nwf.org/Educational-Resources/Wildlife-Guide/Invertebrates/Monarch-Butterfly

Grass Roots Team