Monarchs offer an amazing view into the intricate nature of the wild. Their science name, Danaus Plexippus, Greek for “Sleepy Transformation,” gets part of the story right, but not the epic whole.
These butterflies execute a highly evolved migration soaring 2,800 miles from a forest in Mexico to far northern places including the Adirondacks, and then back again over the course of three generations.
A monarch's life is a story of enormous transformation. They start as an egg, and within a few days they emerge as a ravenous caterpillar. After 10-14 days of munching away at milkweed leaves, the monarch forms a chrysalis. Over the next two weeks it undergoes a radical reorganization of its tissues, ultimately tearing free from its confinement as an adult monarch butterfly. If it hatched in the summer, it may live for another 2-5 weeks. In early fall, the final generation of monarchs has a special job: to migrate. This special generation may live up to 8 months.
Learn more about them, how you can help them on their way and enjoy their company.