Mexico is witnessing an annual picturesque spectacle as millions of monarch butterflies are arriving there from Canada and northern United States for winter.
These butterflies travel thousands of miles before settling in mountainous woods of central Mexico.
Five generations of monarch butterflies replace one another before spring comes.
However, the youngest generation knows the way back, a phenomenon which scientists yet have not managed to explain.
Monarch butterflies are the most colorful and most beautiful of all butterflies, but there are many more facts about monarch butterflies that the people who have been studying them for years, entomologists, students, and others, have found out.
Did you know that the monarch butterflies that live in North America migrate? Monarch butterflies are the only insect to migrate up to 2,500 miles to get out of the cold weather and hibernate. But not all monarch butterflies migrate; only the fourth generation of monarchs can migrate each year because the first three generations die after about six weeks from escaping their cocoons.
Did you know that monarch butterflies go through four generations each year? The first three generations hatch from their cocoon state (also known as the pupa or chrysalis state) and live for up to six weeks, but the fourth generation continues to live on for up to six or eight months so that they can migrate to a warmer climate, hibernate, and then start a new first generation in the spring time.
Female monarch butterflies have several hundred eggs to lay during their short life in the spring time. Monarch butterfly larvae eat milkweed and they need them to live. Did you know that milkweed plants are being cut down to make roads and houses and the monarch butterfly population is decreasing because of this? Conservationists are working hard to bring back the milkweeds so that monarch butterflies have a place to live and grow.
Most people think that monarch butterflies only have two life stages, the cocoon and the butterfly stages. But monarch butterflies actually go through four stages in their life cycle. They start out as an egg, then hatch into larvae (a caterpillar), and then wrap up in the cocoon, and then they go through the metamorphosis into a butterfly while they are in the cocoon. You can see a diagram of the monarch life cycle that you can color in here.
Once a monarch butterfly is an adult (after the metamorphosis into a full grown butterfly) it can eat the nectar from any flower, not just the milkweed plant. Only the caterpillars need the milkweed plant to live.
Did you know that monarch butterflies are poisonous? They won’t harm humans, but the chemicals from the milkweed plant that they eat when they are in the larvae stage builds up inside of them and gives them a poisonous defense against predators like frogs, birds, mice and lizards.
Do you know how to tell a male from a female monarch butterfly? The male monarchs have a black spot on each of the hind wings over a vein. The female monarch butterfly does not have this spot. Many people think that only the male monarch butterfly is beautiful, but that is simply not true. Every monarch butterfly is beautiful.