As many of you Earth Rangers already know the Monarch butterfly needs our help. Some people use pesticides on Milkweed, which just happens to be the Monarch’s favourite plant and one that they really need to survive. Thanks to your support through the Monarch butterfly Bring Back the Wild™ project we’re taking action! With your help the Nature Conservancy of Canada is protecting land in the Tall Grass Prairies of Manitoba. In this special spot, wildflowers are allowed to grow, well…WILD!
How are the Monarchs doing in their protected home? We sent out a message to the Tall Grass Prairies in Manitoba to check in on the Monarch and received… nothing back. That’s because the Monarchs are gone! But don’t worry they’ll be back in the spring. Monarch butterflies aren’t such big fans of winter, that’s why they head south every year. Since the Monarch butterfly isn’t around we asked researchers at the Nature Conservancy of Canada to fill us in on what the life of a migrating Monarch is all about.
Migrating like a Monarch
Hate long car trips with the family? What about making a yearly journey that takes multiple generations to complete? That’s exactly what the Monarch butterfly does, they make a massive migration south every year to the same spot then turn around and head back north in the spring. The length of these journeys is longer than the normal lifespan of most Monarchs, which is less than two months for butterflies born in early summer. How Monarchs from multiple generations find their way on this epic journey is still a mystery that researchers are trying to solve.
By the end of October Monarch populations east of the Rocky Mountains migrate to the sanctuaries of the Mariposa Monarca Biosphere Reserve within the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt pine-oak forests in the Mexican states of Michoacán and México. Monarch populations on the west coast spend their winters in various sites in central coastal and southern California of the United States, like Pacific Grove and Santa Cruz. This journey is so incredible that it has earned the Monarch butterfly some pretty impressive titles, like being the only butterfly that migrates both north and south on a regular basis. The Monarch butterfly also is recognized as being one of the few insects capable of making trans-Atlantic crossings.