The Monarch Butterfly is a true marvel of nature and one of the most beautiful of all butterflies.
It weighs less than a dime, yet it makes one of the longest migrations on Earth across a continent, with it’s navigational accuracy, to a secluded place it has never been.
Monarch butterflies are the most beautiful of all butterflies, some say, and are considered the “king” of the butterflies, thus the name “monarch”.
Monarch butterflies go through four different stages during one life cycle, and through four generations in one year. 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 March and April the eggs are laid on milkweed plants. They hatch into baby caterpillars. It takes about four days for the eggs to hatch. Then the baby caterpillar doesn’t do much more than eat the milkweed so it can grow. After about two weeks, the caterpillar will be fully-grown and finds 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. 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.
Monarch butterflies are the only insect to migrate up to 2,500 miles to get out of the cold weather and hibernate. Not all monarch butterflies migrate.
Once a monarch butterfly is an adult it will eat the nectar from any flower, not just the milkweed plant. Only the caterpillars need the milkweed plant to live.
The Monarch butterfly are poisonous. They won’t harm humans, but the chemicals from the milkweed, the plants that they eat when they are in the larvae stage, builds up inside of them and gives them a poisonous defense against predators like frogs, birds, mice and lizards.
The male monarchs have a black spot on each of the hind wings over a vein. The female monarch butterfly does not have this spot. Many people think that only the male monarch butterfly is beautiful, but that is not true. Every monarch butterfly is beautiful.