During last week’s visit to Southwest Oklahoma, we were fortunate enough to observe a cloud of Monarchs that were stopping to rest in some small Willow trees along one of the canals at Hackberry Flat. This was the fourth such time I’ve been lucky enough to witness such a fantastic sight. Thousands of the gorgeous Monarchs swirling in and through the sky and trees…and finally settling into the trees for the night.
“Monarchs are especially noted for their lengthy annual migration. In North America they make massive southward migrations starting in August until the first frost. A northward migration takes place in the spring. The monarch is the only butterfly that migrates both north and south as the birds do on a regular basis. But no single individual makes the entire round trip.
Female monarchs deposit eggs for the next generation during these migrations. By the end of October, the population east of the Rocky Mountains migrates to the sanctuaries of the Mariposa Monarca Biosphere Reserve in the Mexican states of Michoacán and México. The western population overwinters in various sites in central coastal and southern California, United States, notably in Pacific Grove and Santa Cruz.
Monarch butterflies are poisonous or distasteful to birds because of milkweed poison stored by the caterpillar stage; their bright colors are warning colors. During hibernation monarch butterflies sometimes suffer losses because hungry birds pick through them looking for the butterflies with the least amount of poison, but in the process killing those that they reject.” – Wikipedia
Here you’ll find even more information about the Monarch Butterfly – provided by the National Wildlife Refuge System. And as they say:
“The annual migration cycle of the monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) is one of the most spectacular natural phenomena in the world. Every year, millions of monarchs migrate thousands of miles from Canada and the United States to overwinter in the mountain peaks in the states of Mexico and Michoacán in Mexico. This magical journey, deemed an “endangered natural phenomenon,” is dependent on conservation of habitats in all three North American countries – United States, Canada, and Mexico.”
The National Wildlife Refuge system may call it a natural phenomena – but I’m glad they went on to call it a ‘magical journey’ because I call it pure magic! And if you’ve ever seen it, you’ll just never forget it!