My husband and I wanted to provide a source of nutrition and a place for Monarch Butterflies to eat and lay their eggs, so we bought milkweed seeds last year – the perennial plant came back this year (though they don’t bloom until year three), and grew several feet tall. When milkweed plants are two years old, they are ready to be eaten by the Monarch caterpillars, and true to form, the caterpillars showed up this year! We were both like little kids when we discovered Monarch caterpillars devouring our milkweed a few weeks ago.
Doing a little online research it turns out these creatures are quite fascinating and complex. A few interesting facts about this fantastic phenomena, the Monarch:
- During the annual migration cycle for Monarchs, there are four to five generations involved in the journey. The migration cycle starts in Mexico in the spring. They migrate north to the United States and Canada, then migrate south, back to Mexico, or California.
- Monarchs can fly up to 3,000 miles to migrate.
- The first three generations of the Monarch in the migration cycle only live 2-6 weeks. The last generation lives for up to nine months.
- Milkweed is the only plant on which Monarch butterflies will lay their eggs and is the only food source for Monarch caterpillars, making these plants very important to the Monarch species.
- The number of Monarchs during the 2019-2020 migration period was down 53 percent from the previous year.
- Monarchs have emerged from their cocoons on the International Space Station
- Many think that the word butterfly came from the thought that witches could take on the butterfly’s shape. When doing so, they would steal milk and butter.