The Monarch Butterfly

SALISBURY NATURALISTS

Members of the club have collected 10 monarch butterfly larvae from the Highland Wetland Trail area that are nearing their chrysalis stage from which they will emerge as adult butterflies. This is exciting and we would like to put on a presentation for interested persons from school age children to adults.

The Majestic Monarch Butterfly

  1. The Monarch Butterfly has the longest migration in the insect world. On average 2,500 Kl.
  2.  Monarchs in Eastern Canada migrate 5,000 kilometers.
  3. Naturalists were puzzled for years as to the life cycle of the monarch and where the Monarchs go in winter.
  4. A Canadian, Fred Urquhart studied this complex question for years. Finally in 1976 by identifying their migration routes and migration span he was able to discover their final destination. For this he was awarded the Order of Canada. 
  5. Monarchs that live east of the Rocky Mountains migrate to MEXICO (approx. 100 km northwest of Mexico City) and hibernate in oyamel fir trees in the mountains.
  6. Monarchs West of the Rockies will hibernate near Pacific Grove California in eucalyptus trees.
  7. The monarch produce 4 generations in one season.
  8.  Monarch larvae only eat milkweed plants of which there are 3- varieties.
  9. When the Monarchs leave Mexico they fly to Southern Texas where they lay the first generation eggs on milkweed plants and they die. The next 2 generations mate, lay eggs and die. Their life span is 2-6 weeks.
  10. It is the 4th generation Monarch of the year that lives on average 9 months. This is the monarch that will migrate south and hibernate for the winter.
  11. The fourth generation of Monarch that migrate return to the same tree that it’s great-grandmother hibernated in a year ago.
  12. Over the past 22 years Monarch Butterflies have declined by 68%.
  13. Monarchs’ decline is a harbinger of widespread environmental change as well as other factors.
  14. A single storm in 2002 in Mexico killed over 2 million Monarchs
  15. Declines are due to storms, agricultural practices, insecticides and logging in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of Mexico where the Monarchs overwinter.
  16. The people of this area are poor and require wood for building houses, cooking food and winter heat.
  17. Conservation efforts are now focused on preserving the habitat throughout Mexico and North America
  18. In the wild the success rate of the eggs produced by the female Monarch (upwards to 100-200 eggs in a season) is estimated at 1%.
  19. Raising Monarchs in captivity increases success rate to 90+%
  20. Predators in the wild include a number of insects such as spiders and wasps and of course birds.

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