Every fall thousands and thousands of amazingly beautiful winged invertebrates cross our massive state on their migration from Canada to Central Mexico. Some fly as far as 3,000 miles!
Monarchs- like some some birds and mammals travel far south in the fall to reach warmer climates with abundant food. Most come from Canada and the northern U.S. Somehow they find thier way to fir forests that grow high in the mountains of Central Mexico. Over winter, they roost together in large numbers among the branches. In the spring, they return to Texas and the southern U.S. lay eggs on milkweeds and die. The young then hatch and mature into adults butterflies, which continue northward. By September and October, great-grandchildren (and sometimes great-great-grandchildren of the monarchs that migrated the previous fall arrive back in Canada and the northern U.S. Then the cycle begins again!
Did you know?
- The monarch is Texas’ state insect!
- Adult monarchs that hatch in the fall can live op to eight months. Adults that hatch in the spring and summer live only four to six weeks.
- A butterfly drinks through its straw-like mouth (probiscsis) but tastes with its feet!
Fun Fact: Scientists who study butterflies and moths are called lepidopterists.
Taken from article “Mysterious Monarchs”, Keep Texas Wild, Vol 2, Issue 2, October 2009
Photo courtesy of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department