Migrating Monarch Butterfly
The monarch butterfly, Danaus plexippus , is a lepidopteran whose main difference with other species of butterflies is that it migrates traveling a huge amount of kilometers.
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The monarch butterfly has a very peculiar life cycle, which varies depending on the generation that will live. Its normal life cycle is as follows: it lives 4 days as an egg, 2 weeks as a caterpillar, 10 days as a chrysalis and 2 to 6 weeks as an adult butterfly.
However, the butterflies that are born from the end of August until the beginning of autumn, live 9 months . They are called Generation Methuselah, and it is the butterflies that emigrate from Canada to Mexico and vice versa. Continue reading this article from YourCatCareguide where we tell you all the most relevant points of the monarch butterfly migration .
The monarch butterflies measure 9 to 10 cm, with a weight of half a gram. The females are smaller, have the finer wings and their color is darker. Males have a vein in their wings that releases pheromones .
After mating they lay eggs on plants called the Asclépias (flower-butterfly). When they are born the larvae feed on the rest of the egg and the plant itself.
The monarch butterfly caterpillars
The larva as it devours the butterfly flower becomes a caterpillar with a striped pattern of the species itself.
Monarch caterpillars and butterflies have an unpleasant taste for predators. Moreover its bad taste is also toxic .
Butterflies migrating from Canada to Mexico on a return trip have an unusually long life. To this so special generation we call the Generation Methuselah.
Monarch butterflies migrate south into late summer and early fall. They realize more than 5000 km until arriving at their destination in Mexico or California to spend the winter. After five months, during the spring the Methuselah generation returns to the north. In this movement millions of copies migrate.
Butterflies in the eastern Rocky Mountains hibernate in Mexico , while those in the western mountain range hibernate in California . The monarch butterflies of Mexico spend the winter in pine and fir groves above 3000 meters high.
Most of the regions where monarch butterflies live during the winter were declared in 2008: Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve. California monarch butterflies hibernate in eucalyptus forests.
Monarch Butterfly Predators
Adult monarch butterflies and their caterpillars are toxic, but some species of birds and rats are immune to their venom . A bird that can feed on the monarch butterfly is the Pheucticus melanocephalus. This bird is also migratory.
There are monarch butterflies that do not migrate and live all year in Mexico.