Oct 22nd, 2012 | By | Category: Senior Travel

Monarch Butterfly Migration is Annual Trek

Senior citizens are not the only travelers.  I have long been mystified by the annual Monarch butterfly migration to Mexico.  Have you ever seen them congregate in huge masses in the trees?  It’s that time of year again, so join me as we trace the 4,000-mile round trip made by millions of monarchs,  these beautiful orange flutterers (Danaus plexippus).

Every autumn, up to 300 million monarchs set flight on a remarkable journey from the northeastern U.S. and Canada to their ancestral wintering grounds in the volcanic mountains of central Mexico. Until recently, the location of their breeding grounds remained a mystery. How an infant generation of butterflies finds it anew each year is still an enigma.

Each year, the first few weeks of fall in South Jersey feature an invasion from the north — monarch butterflies, descending on the shore en masse as they migrate south to Mexico. This year was an especially big migration, and the sight is breathtaking. They came through northeastern Ohio on their annual migration path from Canada to Mexico, where they winter until the cycle begins again.

The monarchs flee the cold Canadian fall and winter to find refuge in  Mexico’s most protected area, the forests of pine and oyamel fir trees of the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve located in the western part of Mexico state.  Designed as a World Heritage site, the little red dot on this map shows their destination.

The Great Migration to Mexico

Senior citizen scientists track the monarch butterfly migration each fall and spring as the monarchs travel to and from Mexico. Report your own observations of migrating butterflies to real-time migration maps. Share data to help scientists understand how monarchs respond to climate and changing seasons. Explore monarch butterfly life cycle, ecology, habitat and conservation needs.

It’s the Milkweed Plant

Milkweed is the host plant for the Monarch Butterfly. This means the adult Monarch Butterflies lay their eggs on Milkweed and the caterpillars eat the Milkweed leaves. Scientifically known as asclepias, there are over 20 varieties of milkweed across the USA.

Milkweed is NOT just another weed, it is a natural wonder – the host plant for the monarch butterfly. Without milkweed, the monarch cannot exist, yet across the USA, milkweed is being cut down! Parking lots, condominiums, and shopping malls are replacing the fields!

A fact file on these beautiful butterflies …they are known as much as anything for their determination to get to Mexico on that long long flight.

And so I said to my husband when I got to the last (previous) sentence, “Honey, you didn’t put an ending to this article.”  And he said to me, “I could have gone on and on.  They got there and they’re just fine!”  So that’s about all that jeb had to say about Monarch butterflies.  As his editing wife, I have one comment.  One of the trips I want to make either in the fall or the spring is to an area that is on the Monarch’s flight map.  I cannot imagine the sight!!!  mrsjeb

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