Monarchs Still Holding On!

Posted on September 12th, 2013 by

Earlier this week, I noticed three Monarch Butterflies fluttering outside our windows at the Interpretive Center. They seemed to be having a ball, enjoying the colorful flower gardens. Monarchs, as most of us may know begin as caterpillars. As caterpillars, they must eat constantly in order to grow big enough, fast enough to turn themselves into the beautiful butterflies we all admire. During this stage, their diet consists of only milkweed. Interestingly, as the caterpillar’s size soars, their skin doesn’t grow with them, so they must molt, or shed their skin, several times. Once big enough in height and weight, the caterpillar will curl itself into a pupa or chrysalis. While in the chrysalis, the caterpillar will go through a metamorphosis, transforming itself almost completely. When it emerges, about 10 days later, it has become a magnificent Monarch Butterfly. These butterflies feed on nectar, water and juices from fruits like bananas, oranges and watermelon. Monarchs travel from the great lakes region all the way down to Mexico, where they spend their winter. According to the Los Angeles Times in an article written in 2010, the monarch population had decreased approximately 50-60% over the course of the 2009-2010 winter due to the harsh storms that had raided Mexico, where the monarchs were staying. The road to recovery is expected to be a slow one, but I’m excited to see these delicate creatures making the arboretum their home once again this year.

Monarch Butterfly shares the surface of a sunflower with a bee.

Monarch Butterfly shares the surface of a sunflower with a bee.

 

 

 

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