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What Are Monarch Butterflies Known For?
Monarch butterflies are arguably the most popular butterfly around. Their display of the iconic orange-red wings makes them easy to identify. Their adult bodies are made of two pairs of these bright, colorful wings and black veins. Females are seen with thinner veins while males will have 2 black spots on the lower set of wings. The males are also slightly larger than the females. Beyond their beauty, Monarch Butterflies are known for their long migration across North America to their overwintering hibernation in Mexico and the California coast.
These majestic insects migrate approximately 1,200 to 2,800+ miles from Northeast USA and Southeastern Canada to Mexico. The Western USA populations also move to the California coast to overwinter, hibernate, and breed (Nov-March). Because the winters of their summer locations are too cold for their survival it is imperative that they migrate and live in colonies to stay warm.
While their risk of becoming endangered has loomed for years, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has officially classified the Migratory Monarch Butterfly with the red-listing of Endangered on July 21, 2022. What does this mean? These beautiful majestic butterflies we all love are on their way to extinction if we don’t take measures to protect our wildlife and their habitats.
Life Cycle of Monarch Butterflies
Here you will find a brief breakdown of the Monarch butterfly's life cycle while the National Wildlife Foundation (NWF) can supply you with more details if you would like to continue your research.
Monarch Caterpillars have yellow, black, and White stripes. They then transform into pupae with a seafoam green chrysalis with yellow spots along the edge.
- Egg/Ovum: 3-5 Days
- Larvae/Caterpillar: 7-17 Days
- Pupae/Chrysalis: 8-12 Days
- Adult Butterfly: 4-5 Weeks
Why Are The Migratory Monarch Butterflies Endangered?
Because of continued habitat destruction and climate change affecting their migration patterns, the Migratory Monarch Butterfly has found its very existence threatened. Its overwintering locations in Mexico and California have seen an increase in habitat destruction due to logging and deforestation to build urban housing, and clear land for agricultural use. These efforts have resulted in the loss of food and shelter for these beloved flying insects.
Other actions threatening the Monarch's existence across their migratory regions include poaching, dams, and pesticide or herbicide use to kill their host plants. Over the last decade, a 22-72% drop in their population has been observed with western populations seeing the worst drops. To see Monarch butterfly sightings near you check out one of these sighting maps and report any you see.
How Can We Save Migratory Monarch Butterflies?
Helping doesn’t have to be hard. You can help this struggling population to recover by providing safe host plants for these butterflies to find refuge. Planting native milkweed, or wildflowers like this Save the Monarchs Wildflower Mix is a perfect place to start. Just make sure to plant native varieties, rather than tropical milkweed as this type can interfere with the butterfly’s natural migratory patterns. If you would like to help all butterflies, you could try planting an entire butterfly garden for fun sightings all season long. Here at True Leaf Market, we care deeply about preserving our wildlife and want to aid this cause through education and awareness.
True Leaf Market is now partnering with Monarch Joint Venture to contribute to the active conservation of these fluttering beauties. Monarch Joint Venture partnerships include “federal and state agencies, other nonprofits, community groups, businesses, and academic programs that work together to implement science-based conservation actions in the form of education, habitat, and science.”
Check out their conservation and Implementation plan to see how they are responsibly and sustainably aiding the decreasing Monarch populations. You can also learn more about the butterfly and ways to take action in protecting its habitat from the variety of handouts available for free.
10% of your purchase of the Save The Monarchs Seed Collection goes to Monarch Joint Venture, partnering to conserve the monarch butterfly migration