Pages Navigation Menu

Promoting Public Awareness Of Wildlife Habitats Through Environmental Education

The Beautiful & Amazing Monarch Butterfly

officeWritten by: Abbie Kent, KFT Volunteer

As summer sadly comes to an end, we say goodbye to a multitude of departing animals on their way South. One of these seasonal species is the Monarch butterfly. This particular insect is exceptional not only for its ability to transform from a tiny land restricted caterpillar to a dazzling orange-winged butterfly, but because it is also widely respected for the amazing 3000 mile journey it completes every year from Canada to the mountainous out crop just west of Mexico city.

Now not every butterfly gets to make this journey in their lifetime, in fact there are four generations of monarchs in a single year. The first generation of monarchs can be seen in Canada in very early summer and only live up to two months. The job of these butterflies is essentially to produce enough young to survive the upcoming migration. The second generation of monarchs is then born in early August and these guys are the travelers. The third generation is much like the first except they make their homes in West Mexico. And finally the forth group is set to complete the journey back up to the now not-so-snowy North.

Amazingly, these tiny creatures not only manage to complete this 3000 mile journey on a pair of wings less than 10 centimeters long, but they manage to do this without ever having to stop and ask for directions! That’s because the monarch butterfly possesses its own compass attached to its head; antennae. Each monarch antennae contains ctyprochrome, a chemical that makes them sensitive to violet and blue light. This allows the butterflies to use the earth’s magnetic field for orientation.

All these features certainly make the monarch an amazing subject of study. Monarchs can even be studied from a distance at home by planting its favorite food, milkweed, in your very own butterfly garden. A great experience for the kids to take part in is watching the transformation from caterpillar, to chrysalis, to vibrant butterfly. Next summer we at Kids for Turtles hope to have a few of these amazing friends at our office location at Tudhope Beach park. You can also find a booklet on how to build your own butterfly garden by clicking on the link below.

KFT offers hands-on learning, the best way to learn more about creatures such as this sensational orange traveler.