Each and every year, people have stood witnesses to the migration of monarch butterflies. Sighting the migration of this species is probably one of the best attractions Mother Nature has to offer. Monarch butterflies are hard to miss. What makes them stand out among other butterflies are their noticeable black and orange markings alongside a pair of wings which can grow up to 4 inches.
Why and When Do They Migrate?
Just like any type of animal, these migratory butterflies move from one place to another because of the harsh seasonal weather of North America. They are highly susceptible to cold weather, so they fly either south or west, in search of a warmer place to settle in (usually Mexico). This usually happens at the start of October, but of course, things may change if the winter months start earlier than that. Their arrival usually happens during one of the most celebrated festivals in Mexico, Dia de los Muertos (which translates to Day of the Dead), and it is believed that these butterflies are the souls of the departed coming back to earth.
Before they fly northwards again for the spring, they mate, lay eggs in the south, and die. As soon as the hatched eggs are fertilized, they, in turn, continue with the process. The cycle just goes on and on.
Their Biggest Threat
Although we may think that the biggest threat to their species is the cool weather and climate change, the destruction of their natural habitat and the eradication of their primary food source appear to be the top causes. Destruction of their natural habitat can include illegal logging, soil erosion, and ozone depletion, while their limited food source is caused by considering milkweed, which is their food, as a dangerous weed and not as a giver of life to these animals.
What Can Be Done
Milkweed is an important part of a Monarch’s life because this is where it lays its eggs, and it is the only plant their young can eat. Just a few days ago, the Bergen Audubon Society requested the residents of North Jersey to plant milkweeds in their backyards, and for people to stop destroying them if they find any. In addition to this, the society has even donated milkweed plants to certain schools and places where the butterflies are most likely to visit. Although the society’s main focus is the preservation of birds, they recently have started two butterfly sanctuaries.