A Senior Citizen Science Project
This Blogger and his Chief Editor, while attending the 2016 Whooping Crane Festival, had the opportunity to hear an expert speak about the life, biology, of monarch butterflies. The information presented was so informative and entertaining that we were motivated to become involved in the life cycle of the beautiful monarch butterfly. A Senior Citizen Science Project sprang forth on March 11 with the purchase of a $20 potted milkweed plant.
The monarch butterfly is found throughout the United States as well as Mexico and Canada. Astonishingly, these small insects can make a 3,000-mile journey in the fall of the year to their wintering location in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of Mexico or to southern California, depending on which part of the United States or Canada they migrate. The monarchs in this blog are migrating North from Mexico because they are on the eastern side of the Rocky Mountains. Monarchs can fly 50 to 100 miles per day; it can take up to two months to make the trip to their winter home. Monarchs produce four generations during one summer. The first three generations have a life span of 2-6 weeks and will continue moving north. During this time, they will mate and have the next generation that will continue the northward migration. The fourth generation is different. They can live up to nine months before the long journey to their winter home in California or Mexico.
The photographs in this blog are intended to inform and show the four stages in the fascinating life of a monarch butterfly. The four stages are:
- The eggs stage which lasts about four days.
- The caterpillar(larva) stage lasts about two weeks.
- The chrysalis(pupa) stage lasts about ten days.
- The adult stage of the Monarch butterfly lasts from 2-6 weeks and then the next generation process begins repeating the same process except for the fourth generation.
On April 17 our project ended when the last of our monarchs suddenly took flight from my finger in a northerly direction which caused happiness along with some sadness. Happy because our project produced 6 first generation female monarch butterflies; sad because they will never return – empty nest.
You should know that the monarch butterfly population has been on the decline due to habitat loss. One way to help is to plant milkweed to provide a place for the monarch butterfly to lay her eggs and provide food for the caterpillar. Spring forth with a Senior Citizen Science Project next spring