Thursday, 27 September 2012

Butterflying in the Fall

Small in size and fragile-looking, the monarch butterfly undertakes one of the toughest migrations on record.  Have you ever wondered how they do it?  It is astonishing that it measures four inches at most, from one wing tip to another and weighs less than a peanut, and yet can somehow make it's way from Canada to the mountaintop forests of central Mexico.  To boot, this is all accomplished on wings that are as thin as paper and not a single one of these butterflies have ever been Mexico before.  Imagine that!  

During the summertime monarchs emerge and for about two weeks they live a normal butterfly life that includes mating.  These monarchs are called the breeding generation.  The caterpillars that hatch from their eggs grow, molt, and pupate over a four week period.  Eventually, they grow into adult butterflies.  If the nights are still warm and the days still long then they too will mate.  The monarch butterfly that emerges at the end of the summer will, however, live a very different life.  Instead of mating, these butterflies become the migrating generation of monarchs.  They feed heavily on nectar from late-blooming flowering plants and, eventually fly toward Mexico.  These migrating monarchs can live for as long as nine months.  It is disheartening to find out that these magnificent creatures are on the endangered species list.

Your Quest:  Interested in monarch butterflies?  Then your quest is to set up a butterfly feeding station to help the monarch butterfly on it's migratory path.

When:  During late summer and early fall 

Where:  In your own backyard 

Why:  In order to closely observe monarch butterflies, attract them and to help them on their migratory flight south.  

How:  It's a S.N.CH!  Or is it?  Watch the video below and find out how.

But be careful, a butterfly's eyes can detect movement.  If you cast a shadow over them or even if you just point at them, they will flutter off.  Be patient if this happens, though, and the butterfly will soon land once again.  Move slowly and have fun exploring!

How to Make Butterfly Food

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