So this is the very first blog and I wanted to talk a little bit about my logo, the Monarch butterfly.
Such beautiful insects! I find all insects fascinating, even the ugly and scary ones; so specialized, so adaptive, so intricate. So very different from us!!
With these blogs I hope to highlight gardens, farms, and Nature. Like my website. So much is going on in the world nowadays. Lots to learn about!
I feel the Monarch butterflies best represent the future of many creatures on our planet, which is one of dwindling habitat, loss of food sources, and climate changes. One school of thought is that it’s a normal part of evolution that will naturally prove survival of the fittest. The other side of this is that we should pull out all the stops to find man-made solutions. I think both will come to pass. I like to believe that a lot more people are noticing, a lot more people are caring, a lot more people are speaking up and changing things.
I will try to keep the politics out of these blogs and off social media as much as possible. Unfortunately, a lot of the things I care about are being politically manipulated. And a lot has already been published about Monarch butterflies! So I will attempt to stick to some interesting facts and some more detailed links, if you’d like more info-
The Monarch butterflies are a milkweed butterfly in the family Nymphalidae , species Danaus plexippus.
These beauties have a wingspread between 3 3/8 and 4 7/8 inches. Males and females look pretty much alike.
Do we all understand how butterflies go through an egg stage, caterpillar stages, pupae stage, and metamorphosis? (Excellent timelapse video!)
Caterpillars eat milkweed plants full of cardiac glycosides, a natural heart drug, which renders the Monarchs foul-tasting. Its look-alike cousins the Viceroy butterflies don’t taste good either. Viceroy caterpillars eat willows and poplars that are loaded with bitter salicylic acid. The bright orange colors of the butterflies warns predators that they both taste bad! This is known as mimicry in Nature.
Bright orange and black, they have a fabulous sailing form of flight, easily recognizable once you’ve seen it. Their flight speed is approximately 9 km/hr or 5.5 mph, with bursts of 12 mph if threatened or with a good wind. For comparison, jogging is approximately 6 to 8 mph. Maybe you’ve seen two Monarchs doing their slow fluttery mating dance around each other for long periods of time on a warm day. Incredible!
Overwintering populations of Monarchs can be found in Mexico, California, along the Gulf Coast, year round in Florida, and in Arizona, where the habitat has the specific conditions necessary for their survival. On the East Coast, they have been seen overwintering as far north as Virginia Beach. Their wintering habitat typically provides access to streams, plenty of sunlight (enabling body temperatures that allow flight), appropriate roosting vegetation, and is relatively free of predators.
These beauties have 2 different lifespans! One group lives only a few weeks, lays eggs, and dies. The other group lives long enough to migrate, sometimes thousands of miles! During the summer breeding season, monarchs live for only 2-6 weeks. But the monarchs that migrate to Mexico in the fall are different. They will live approximately 9 months- born in late summer, stay alive all winter, and migrate north the following spring.
The monarch butterflies, once common across the United States, could soon end up on the Endangered Species List. Some scientists say the butterfly’s decline is linked to a rise in genetically engineered crops in the Midwest. Loss of their primary food source, the common Milkweed plant, is another. The rise in use of pesticides, herbicides, and chemical fertilizers as well as single crop farming and pollution are other possible factors.
Monarchs know when it is time to migrate south for the winter based on the seasonal changes of their environment. They get some incredibly high altitudes by using air currents and thermals to travel such incredible distances. The highest monarch was recorded at 11,000 ft by a glider pilot – over two miles up in the air! Amazing creatures!
P.S. I just found some great new Butterfly Wall Art for RobinsGardenandGifts, and of course, always looking for new outdoor decor to show you…