The mighty Monarch Butterfly spends the summer here in North America. Then, they migrate to Mexico or Southern California for the cold months.
A few live in Southern California, Texas and Florida all year long.
They also live in the Mediterranean area, Indonesia, Australia, Hawaii and some Pacific Islands.
The Monarch's orange wings have black veins and black edges with two rows of white dots.
Their wing-span is around four inches. Their body is black with white dots.
The fore-wing is a little brighter orange than their hind-wings.
This is especially noticeable on the underside of their wings.
Males have an enlarged spot their hind wings containing a scent pouch. The scent pouch is lacking on the females.
The female's veins are a little bit thicker and her wing-span is slightly smaller than the male's.
Other butterflies mimic Monarchs so
birds think they taste bad and won't eat them. Monarch butterflies taste bad
because of a chemical their caterpillars eat from the butterfly weed.
The Viceroy Butterflies look very similar to Monarchs.
But notice the heavy black band across their hind-wings?
The Monarch is lacking these heavy black bands.
The Viceroy is also about an inch smaller than the Monarch.
The Queen Butterfly is another butterfly, also mistaken for a Monarch.
The topside of the Queen is lacking black veins.
The underside of the Queen looks very similar to the Monarch.
But the Queen Butterfly has white spots out in the middle of its fore-wings.
The Monarch migration has made them a favorite butterfly of many people.
They have never been where they are going. Their grandparents or ancestors flew there, but they have never been there.
How do they know where they are going? This is one of the very interesting Monarch butterflies facts scientists have been trying to answer.
Some scientists think the Monarch butterflies sense the magnetic field in the earth.
Monarchs migrate every year up to 2,000 miles.
Monarchs fly south down to Florida or the Texas gulf coast and then out across the Gulf to Mexico. Many also fly from California to Mexico.
Amazing! What courageous beauties!
How can a little butterfly go 2,000 miles? How can they do it?
Who taught them?
Members of their family sat on these very same trees in previous years.
They go right back to the same area where their ancestors have over-wintered in previous generations.
By mid-November the fir trees in the area where they overwinter are covered with them.
They are relatively inactive during the winter. They hang together in large clusters on the trees.
In early spring they will start feeding, breed and produce a new generation.
Then about mid-March the new generation will start back north.
How awesome is that!
They fly north into the southern United States.
When they get there they lay eggs and produce another generation.
The eggs hatch and the new generation keeps flying north.
In the fall, between August to October, they start heading back south.
It is the third or fourth generation since they left Mexico.
Monarchs lay their eggs on butterfly milkweed.
When the eggs hatch the caterpillar feeds on the milkweeds.
The glycoside chemical in milkweeds make Monarch Butterflies toxic and taste bad to predators.
Plant one of the more than 100 varieties of milkweeds to feed the Monarch caterpillars.
The Monarch Butterflies will come to feed from the flowers and lay eggs on butterfly milkweed, so include them in your landscape.
Also, include plenty of fall blooming flowers for butterflies, such as Asters and Mexican Sunflowers to feed the Monarchs that are migrating south for the winter.
Butterflies bring so much joy to our backyard gardens.