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The Amazing Life of the Monarch Butterfly

Monarch butterflies are easily natures most beautiful creatures. Read on to learn about the amazing behaviors of Monarch butterflies.

An Impressive Migration

The most common variety, and well known type of butterfly in North America is the Monarch butterfly. Monarch’s are fairly large for a butterfly, with a wingspan of about 4 inches, with beautiful orange, black, and white coloring on their wings – Monarchs are often highly sought after by butterfly enthusiasts and photographers alike.

Scientists believe that Monarch butterflies are the only family of insects that actually migrate. As winter approaches in colder climates, the Monarch starts to slow down and reproduction stops. Over the summer, they store fat reserves in their stomach in preparation for the winter.

As temperatures drop, Monarchs begin to journey south for the winter. In the west they tend to travel south of the Rocky Mountains. Throughout the U.S., they travel to Florida, Texas and Mexico. Canadian and Northwest American Monarch butterflies travel south to the coast of California and down to Southern California. The migration distance is truly amazing considering these are such small insects. Unbelievably, once the weather warms up again, the Monarch will return north to the exact same locations where they originally migrated from. While migrating, Monarchs are known to travel as fast as 30 miles per hour. Somehow, those little wings work miracles.

A Journey of Life

The migration of the Monarch is not just a way to escape from the cold of winter. These butterflies have actually incorporated the migration into the course of their life cycle. As these butterflies travel south, they also stop to mate and lay eggs on milkweed plants along the way. In the course of traveling, the older butterflies end up dying during the trip. Eventually, after only a few days, young butterflies are born and join with the existing population of butterflies. This means that the migration patterns of the monarch are also part of their reproduction cycle, and add to their population.

The Life Cycle of the Monarch Butterfly

The Monarch is from the species Lepidoptera, with a very unique life cycle. Monarches start their lives as tiny eggs, which eventually hatch into butterfly larvae. The first stage of the butterfly’s life is a birth as a caterpillar. The caterpillar eats a tremendous amount of food relative to its body size, and eventually finds a tree where it attaches and forms a pupa. Within this pupa, the caterpillar transforms itself into the stunningly beautiful Monarch butterfly. It is easy to understand why so many traditions and cultures across the world embrace the Monarch butterfly as a symbol of extreme transformation and change from something earthly and material into something spiritual and free. It is no surprise that Greek culture has embraced the butterfly as a symbol of the soul.

The Monarch butterfly has captured the imagination and love of butterfly enthusiasts around the world.

Learn everything you could possibly want to know about butterflies at TypesOfButterflies.net.

Ryan Dube has been freelance writing for over 10 years for publishers both online and offline and has covered topics including the paranormal, finance, relationships, and more. Learn more at Invisible Inc.
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Tags: Monarch butterflies, Monarch butterfly, winter in the west, butterfly enthusiasts, milkweed plants

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