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                           The Monarch Butterfly Monarch Butterfly

A lot of birds, animals and fish migrate to more favorable locations, to avoid the harsh winter climate of their habitat. Even some tropical butterflies migrate North or South with changes in the weather conditions.  But in the whole world no other butterfly migrates like the
Monarch Butterfly
of North America.
 
These tiny butterflies with a wing span of 6-10 cm., and weighing only about ˝ gm make an amazing journey of approximately 2000 miles from Canada to warmer places in California or Mexico. They are the only butterflies to make such a long two way migration every year. During migration they fly in clusters. An average Monarch butterfly travels about 50 miles per day. Monarch Butterfly
 

Monarchs on the West side of the Rocky mountains travel to California and Monarchs on the east of the Rocky mountains travel to the forests in the mountains of Mexico. Monarchs can be very easily recognized , due to their bright Orange and Black wings with  white spots.
Monarch migration path map
 
At the beginning of Spring, in the month of March the monarchs leave their winter homes and begin their Southward journey. On the way the female butterflies stop and lay their eggs on the underside of the leaves of “Milkweed” plants. Shortly after,  the females die. Thus Monarchs are also known as “Milkweed butterflies”, as the caterpillars will eat only the milkweed leaves, flowers and stems. milkweed plant
 
The caterpillars have rings of black, yellow and white on their body. Some “Milkweed” plants are toxic . The  caterpillars feeding on them, accumulate the poisonous substance in their bodies. This toxin protects the butterfly from its predators. Birds learn to recognize the bright colors and patterns of the Monarch butterfly and tend to avoid them. Monarch Caterpillar
 

 

The caterpillar feeds itself for 10-15 days and then forms an emerald green Chrysalis. The butterfly emerges from the Chrysalis after 10-15 days. This offspring will continue to migrate and return to the same region where their parents once lived.
Monarch Pupa
 
Generations of these wonderful butterflies have migrated between the same North and
South American regions without any guidance from their parents. The instinct that brings
them to the same spots again and again still remains a mystery.

 

Questions:
List five different birds or animals or fish that are known to migrate.
How can we recognize Monarch butterflies from other species ?
Why are Monarch butterflies often called “Milkweed butterflies?
How do Monarch butterflies protect themselves from their predators?
What guides the butterflies to the same regions again and again?