We know that animals and birds travel long distances in search for new habitats as the seasons change. But, adventurous journeys taken up by the monarch butterflies are enough to leave you in a state of amazement.
Monarch butterflies travel thousands of miles from Mexico to Northern USA and southern Canada which covers a distance of 4000 to 4800 km (2500–3000 miles) and back again! They remarkably manage to embark on this journey which takes them 4 generations to complete.
Their journey starts from the oyamel fir trees in Mexico, at an elevation of 2400 to 3600 meters (nearly 2 miles above sea level) where they roost in thousands and hibernate till March. After being born as caterpillars they feed on poisonous toxicated milkweeds which they store in their bodies giving them a horrible taste to deter predators.
Then they set off around March to North America and this migration takes them 3 generations (2-6 weeks per generation) to complete and the 4th generation becomes a super Monarch butterfly that lives for more than 8 months flying this entire distance back to the warmer climates in Mexico to the same tree from which its great grandfathers have started this journey. The 4th generation Monarch super butterfly is the longest living butterfly on Earth.
This also makes them the only butterflies that migrate both north and south. Scientists believe that they have an inbuilt ‘compass’ that is based on the sun’s position and that they also use the help of landmarks, mountain ranges, scents, trees and highlands.
They have unusual black, orange and white wings and they can also see polarized light and can adjust their sight in cloudy conditions.
Sadly, these beautiful butterflies’ species are facing threats of extinction due to deforestation
To get more insights on the journey and life of a monarch butterfly- Watch this video: