Are there any general facts about the monarch butterflies?
Monarch Butterflies are the kings in the world of butterflies. These are the only insects capable to overcome the vast distances of 2,500 miles to their wintering places in warm countries. During their lifetime, they have to face a lot of difficulties, since they cannot survive the cold weather, and the main source of food doesn’t grow in the wintering grounds.
What is the life cycle of monarch butterflies?
The monarchs spend their winter in southern California. In February or March, they wake up to start moving to the north. Shortly after waking up, they mate and lay their eggs on the plants.
The first generation of monarchs will be in the form of caterpillars. You can easily find them on the plants. Then they turn into pupae, well then in butterflies lay their larvae and immediately lost. Here is monarchs’ lifecycle. The second and the third generation follows the same cycle and lives for 2-6 weeks, gradually moving to the north.
The fourth generation is different from the first three. It is known as Methuselah, comes in September and lives for 6-9 months. Cold weather doesn’t allow them enough developed to lay eggs. This generation will migrate south during this time.
What are the peculiarities about the species?
The monarchs feed on plants and milkweed, which grows in a familiar environment in winter. This happens mostly because they have to migrate to the north. The thing is that the monarch’s caterpillar releases a toxin that protects against predators; they hunt almost nobody because monarchs don’t need camouflage. On the contrary, their bright color deters predators. While the caterpillars feed exclusively on latex, the adult butterfly can feed on nectar from flowers.
Monarchs face many obstacles in their struggle for survival. First of all, it is pesticides, which poison the agricultural crops. Agriculture and urbanization contribute to the destruction of plants, as they are considered. Logging and global warming are also detrimental to the butterfly, destroying their winter home.
Fortunately, these beautiful butterflies are protected from extinction. In many national parks and biosphere reserves they are provided protection by promoting proliferation of generations, as well as specially cultivated plants and flowers needed to these creatures. This tiny and beautiful insect – monarch butterfly – can perform migration flight over thousands of kilometers, reaching exactly the place it had never before been seen. For example, some monarchs fly from Nova Scotia (Canada) in the mountains, located in the west of Mexico City, sometimes a total distance of 5,000 kilometers. They fly not only in the same place where their ancestors migrated, but very often to the same tree!