EDITOR’S NOTE: If you are a returning reader you can skip this introductory piece and jump to the HMBY Number. I will leave this here for the first 7-10 days for new people to understand what is happening. Welcome or welcome back whatever the case may be.
I can remember even today, 45 years past my first experience learning about the life cycle of a butterfly thinking it was so cool! But I believe it was my dad that brought my attention to the inspirational migration of these exquisite creatures from South America to North America in the Spring and the reverse in the fall. Below is a map of their known migration routes, the arrow on the far right being the closest to my region of the U.S.A.
Since we have plenty of annuals and perennials that have been enjoying other butterfly traffic for a few weeks I believe I might be able to entertain a healthy population of this Rock Star of the butterfly world myself. Thus this idea: How Many Monarch Butterflies Did I See Yesterday. From this point forward I will use this acronym HMBY so I don’t go crazy typing the eight words.
I plan to create a space below this point to put a gigantic number to signify the number I see the previous day as I enjoy the summer blooms. If you are a Monarch watcher I invite you to join in and link back to here.
Due to my work schedule I was unable to do a morning and afternoon check and by the time I came home a torrential rain had swept through and apparently chased the Monarchs as well as every other bee and butterfly away for the day. More learning!
I plan to introduce a color coded system to note when the number is higher or lower. I made it red today just so it stands out in this post.
SHOW ME THE DATA
Okay, so here is the beginning of the good stuff. Below in the chart you will see the graphical trend of how many Monarch butterflies are visiting our flower fields.
Today’s Monarch Fact of the Day – Monarch Life Cycle
In doing research for this I found this article about the Monarch Life Cycle on http://www.learnaboutnature.com
Monarch butterflies go through four stages during one life cycle, and through four generations in one year. It’s a little confusing but keep reading and you will understand. The four stages of the monarch butterfly life cycle are the egg, the larvae (caterpillar), the pupa (chrysalis), and the adult butterfly. The four generations are actually four different butterflies going through these four stages during one year until it is time to start over again with stage one and generation one.
In February and March, the final generation of hibernating monarch butterflies comes out of hibernation to find a mate. They then migrate north and east in order to find a place to lay their eggs. This starts stage one and generation one of the new year for the monarch butterfly.
In March and April the eggs are laid on milkweed plants. They hatch into baby caterpillars, also called the larvae. It takes about four days for the eggs to hatch. Then the baby caterpillar doesn’t do much more than eat the milkweed in order to grow. After about two weeks, the caterpillar will be fully-grown and find a place to attach itself so that it can start the process of metamorphosis. It will attach itself to a stem or a leaf using silk and transform into a chrysalis. Although, from the outside, the 10 days of the chrysalis phase seems to be a time when nothing is happening, it is really a time of rapid change. Within the chrysalis the old body parts of the caterpillar are undergoing a remarkable transformation, called metamorphosis, to become the beautiful parts that make up the butterfly that will emerge. The monarch butterfly will emerge from the pupa and fly away, feeding on flowers and just enjoying the short life it has left, which is only about two to six weeks. This first generation monarch butterfly will then die after laying eggs for generation number two.
The second generation of monarch butterflies is born in May and June, and then the third generation will be born in July and August. These monarch butterflies will go through exactly the same four stage life cycle as the first generation did, dying two to six weeks after it becomes a beautiful monarch butterfly.
The fourth generation of monarch butterflies is a little bit different than the first three generations. The fourth generation is born in September and October and goes through exactly the same process as the first, second and third generations except for one part. The fourth generation of monarch butterflies does not die after two to six weeks. Instead, this generation of monarch butterflies migrates to warmer climates like Mexico and California and will live for six to eight months until it is time to start the whole process over again.
It is amazing how the four generations of monarch butterflies works out so that the monarch population can continue to live on throughout the years, but not become overpopulated. Mother Nature sure has some cool ways of doing things, doesn’t she?
Do You Know a Daily Monarch Fact
Because I enjoy learning new information all the time I will include a daily fact every time I make an update. If you have any facts you want to contribute please do.
My Zinnia Crop is Maturing Fast
The Zinnias in my Sunflower/Zinnia/Mixed wildflower strip have been blooming for well over a month now and now I am unsure what I will have to attract the Monarchs through their migration period. I may search the bargain racks at Walmart and Lowes to see if they have bargain zinnias.
The Monarch Photo of the Day
Capturing good photos of these beauties has been farmed out to the next generation too as my daughter snapped this photograph.
Again, if you are a Monarch Watcher and would like to join in this fun endeavor please do and link to the daily posts.