Monarch Butterfly Life Cycle

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Monarch Butterfly Life Cycle

The butterfly life cycle is a wonder of nature. It begins as a tiny egg on a milkweed plant also known as a butterfly plant), changes to a larval butterfly caterpillar, and then magically undergoes a metamorphosis change into a vibrant colored butterfly.

The mating season begins in late winter and early spring as the weather warms and the Monarchs are ending their winter migration to southern areas. Females search out milkweed plants growing along their route north, and deposit up to one hundred eggs on the butterfly plant leaves.

Monarch Butterfly Life Cycle

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The monark eggs soon hatch to tiny butterfly caterpillars that molt their skin 5 times while growing and eating milkweed leaves. It then builds its own cocoon (chrysalis) to live in during the metamorphosis process.

Within seven days the chrysalis changes rapidly. The green outside wrapper starts to become clear, allowing you to see the developing black and orange butterfly wings. After the tiny creature has completed its transformation, breaks out of her chrysalis (cocoon), and somehow manages to extricate her wet and limp little body.

At this point the adolescent Monark Butterfly, holding on to its previous shelter for support, pumps fluids into his lifeless wings. Amazingly the wings expand to over fifty times larger. He now rests for several hours, moving his wings and drying/hardening them in the sun.

As the youngster’s body begins functioning she is ready to fly away to perpetuate the Monarch Butterfly life cycle.

Monarch Butterfly Life Cycle

Monarchs that hatch in the spring and early summer have a very short life span of only two to five weeks. Those born in the late summer live the longest, six to nine months. These are the ones that perform the winter migration south, start the return trip but soon die. A new generation comes along ..... and then another, to complete the Monark Butterfly’s return to its most northern areas.

The migration of the previous year was done by those of four to six generations ago, whom the current generation has never met. How in the world does Mother Nature perform this amazing feat?

Monarch Butterfly Life Cycle
Monarch Butterfly Life Cycle

1 comments:

Anonymous said...

Why the odd spelling - monark - of monarch?

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