Natural Wonders Table of Contents
Natural Wonders is a series consisting of 11 parts.
- Natural Wonders: Quaking Aspen Trees
- Natural Wonders: Monarch Butterflies
- Natural Wonders: Barred Owls
- Natural Wonders: Hot Springs
- Natural Wonders: Grizzly Bears
- Natural Wonders: Marble
- Natural Wonders: Fall Aster
- Natural Wonders: Black Widow Spider
- Natural Wonders: Gray Wolf
- Natural Wonders: Bald Eagles
- Natural Wonders: Arctic Fox
Take some time to learn about the natural wonders in our world.
We are not alone in our seasonal transitions. Monarch butterflies are known for their biannual migration, ensuring their survival by following a temperate climate—moving south in the fall and north in the spring.
As much as the Monarchs are in touch with transitions, the butterflies only have a life-span of six to eight months. Although each butterfly may only live through one or two changing seasons, their migration pattern carries on with every generation.
Monarch butterflies can be found on most every temperate continent in the world. The North American Monarchs migrate from Canada in the late-summer and fall, the time when they travel to spend the winter months in California and Mexico, a journey of up to 3,000 miles. They then return north again in the spring. Monarchs are the only butterflies that migrate with the seasons.
The Monarchs are born from eggs as larvae on milkweed plants. The larvae grow as caterpillars by eating the milkweed, and then create a hard, protective shell to enter the pupa stage of their development.
They emerge from this protective chrysalides after about two weeks through the process of metamorphosis, when they turn from a caterpillar into a butterfly.
Monarchs have an average wingspan 3.7 to 4.1 inches (9.4 to 10.5 cm), and weigh about .0095 to .026 ounces (.27 to .75 grams). Their coloring is distinctive—burnt orange wings, with tips, stripes and spots of black and white.
The Monarch butterfly is the state insect of Alabama, Idaho, Illinois, Minnesota and Texas, and is the state butterfly of Vermont and West Virginia.
According to the National Geographic website, “many scientists are concerned about the eastern population of monarchs, which summer east of the Rocky Mountains.” The butterflies depend on milkweed to survive, so when the plant is threatened or removed, so are the Monarchs.
The next time you spot a flash of orange from the fluttering wings of a Monarch, let it remind you of the change and continuity that comes with the seasons.