Friday, December 3, 2010

Monarch Butterflies - little miracles!

As a child growing up in Iowa, some of my 'playmates' were Monarch butterflies.

Monarch Butterfly
  I would be amazed at their fragility, and even as a child I    
  loved their beauty and larger size.  They seemed more
  friendly than any other insect I had found.  Well, lightning
  bugs were pretty special  too--but they'll get their own story

  Anyway...I especially loved the times when the Monarch was
  slowing down (sadly because the poor thing was
  probably reaching the end of its life cycle), and I would be
  able to coax them onto my forearm or finger. Their spindly,
  black legs would grasp and hold on, and as they moved, the
  tickling sensation of  their fragile legs and my ability to be
  so close to such a beauty of nature was a wonderful sensation. I followed them everywhere in the garden, and discovered some that would stay with me for a long time during the day.

Out of curiosity, I recently did a search on them and discovered that they have an amazing life cycle-

Here is an excerpt from one of my readings - the full web-site is attached below - no wonder these guys amazed me so much:

The total time frame for one butterfly's life cycle (one generation) is about 6-8 weeks . . . egg, caterpillar, chrysalis, butterfly. It grows inside the egg for about 4 days. It then munches milkweed and grows as a monarch caterpillar (larvae) for about 2 more weeks. The caterpillar's life inside the chrysalis (pupa) lasts about 10 days and its wonderful life as an adult butterfly lasts from 2 - 6 weeks.

February/March - hibernating monarchs in Mexico and southern California reawaken, become active, find a mate, begin the flight northward and lay their eggs. Finally they die. These special monarchs have lived about 4-5 months through the long winter.

March/April -the 1st generation monarchs are born -egg, caterpillar, chrysalis, adult butterfly;

May/June - the 2nd generation is born - egg, caterpillar, chrysalis, adult butterfly;

July/August - the 3rd generation is born - egg, caterpillar, chrysalis, adult butterfly;

Sept/Oct - the 4th generation is born - egg, caterpillar, chrysalis, adult butterfly . . . but THIS generation does not die. It MIGRATES south and lives 6-8 months in Mexico or Southern California. They begin awakening and mating in February/March of the NEXT SPRING, and then lay their eggs! Withered and tattered from their migration and hibernation . . . they finally die.

The cycles goes on as the new baby caterpillars are born each spring and the cycle continues throughout the year into the next spring. MAGICAL and AMAZING!

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