Have you heard of the Monarch
? Well, other butterflies
migrate too! There are many other species of
butterflies that also migrate. For
example, the Painted
, Common Buckeye, American Lady, Red
Admiral, Cloudless Sulphur, Skipper, Sachem,
Question Mark, Clouded Skipper, Fiery Skipper
and Mourning Cloak are all butterflies that
migrate as well.
There are different reasons why butterflies
will migrate toward other places. Did you know
that all butterflies are cold-blooded creatures?
They simply can not handle the colder weather so
have to travel somewhere warmer. They also need
to stay where their food source is Ė if itís
winter and there are no flowers, they can not
If weather changing is not a problem, like
for the butterflies in the tropics, butterflies
will often migrate away in order to establish
new colonies. The reason for this is that if
they stay in one place for too long, the
butterfly caterpillars will consume all of their
food in that one area, and so the butterflies
will starve to death. So migrating to new places
will ensure their survival and their food
Monarch butterflies are not able to survive
the cold winters of most of the United States so
they migrate south and west each autumn to
escape the cold weather. The monarch migration
usually starts in about October of each year,
but can start earlier if the weather turns cold
sooner than that.
The monarch butterflies will spend their
winter hibernation in Mexico and some parts of
Southern California where it is warm all year
long. If the monarch lives in the Eastern
states, usually east of the Rocky Mountains, it
will migrate to Mexico and hibernate in oyamel
fir trees. If the monarch butterfly lives west
of the Rocky Mountains, then it will hibernate
in and around Pacific Grove, California in
eucalyptus trees. Monarch butterflies use the
very same trees each and every year when they
migrate, which seems odd because they arenít
the same butterflies that were there last year.
These are the new fourth generation of monarch
butterflies, so how do they know which trees are
the right ones to hibernate in? Monarch
butterflies are the only insect that migrates to
a warmer climate that is 2,500 miles away each
The Monarch butterfly migrates for 2 reasons.
They can not withstand freezing weather in the
northern and central continental climates in the
winter. Also, the larval food plants do not grow
in their winter overwintering sites, so the
spring generation must fly back north to places
where the plants are plentiful. Would you like
to help track monarch butterfly migrations?
for lots of information on tracking migrations
with a color map.
The monarch overwintering sites are under
threat because of people cutting down their
favorite trees to build roads, houses and farms.
What will happen to the monarchs if they do not
have their special trees to spend the winter?
There are groups that collect money to save the
important trees and educate people about monarch
conservation. You can learn more
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