News and Blog Articles
News and Blog Articles
Whether you’re an avid insect enthusiast or just a casual observer, pretty much everyone knows what the Monarch butterfly looks like. Their bright orange wings are easy to identify, and most of us learned about them and their unique migration pattern in elementary school.
Monarch butterflies are sensitive to temperature, and can’t survive the cold of North American winters. So each year, they travel from their homes in Canada and the northern states down to warmer weather, usually settling in Mexico or along the coast of California.
Did You Know?
Monarch butterflies use air currents and the Earth’s magnetic field to propel them on their journey
Their actual departure depends on any given year’s weather, but on average, Monarchs head south around October, and return home around February. It’s this return trip that makes their migration pattern so unique. Monarch butterflies are the only species of butterfly known to embark on this kind of two-way migration.
Two-way migration means that a single generation of the species in question travels from one location to another, and then back again. Monarchs, in this case, travel south for the winter, as they can’t survive colder temperatures. Once things warm up again, they head back north to their normal habitat.
The Monarch migration is also noteworthy for its span – the Monarch migration route is one of the longest in the animal kingdom, covering over 3,000 miles. Along the way, Monarchs make many stops for food and rest. Here in Georgia, the Monarchs we see are just passing through on their way to their overwinter destination.
What is the Monarch Butterfly Count?
Every year, conservation organizations like Monarch Joint Venture and Western Monarch Count band together to monitor the Monarch butterfly population. This process can vary, but the general idea is to get a count of how many Monarch butterflies stop by a certain location so we can track their numbers as they migrate to and from home.
Counting butterflies is no mean feat, but it’s important. The Monarch butterfly is endangered, with its population decreasing every year. Keeping track of both their migration patterns and their numbers each year helps conservationists and environmental scientists learn how best to support the species so they can thrive.
How can I help?
One of the biggest ways you can contribute to the preservation of Monarchs is by giving them a place to rest on their long journey. Plant a variety of native nectar plants for them to choose from, and make sure to include lots of milkweed, their preferred host plant. With the food, shelter, and water these plants provide, the butterflies will have everything they need to keep going. Even if all you can plant is a single pot with one milkweed plant, you’re still doing your part! Every stem counts.
If you’d like to get involved even further, check out these resources from Monarch Joint Venture to find conservation efforts near you.
Emily Casuccio is sister and sister-in-law to Rebekah and Scott Rushing, and has over half a decade of experience in copywriting, copyediting, proofreading, and developmental storyboarding. She's worked with both published and undiscovered authors on both fiction and nonfiction, and takes pride in supporting local businesses. Her passion lies in the written word and helping authors of all capacities realize their dreams and achieve their fullest potential. To learn more about her, read samples of her work, or contact her, visit her online portfolio.