Our Monarchs

Summer 2006
 
 Tuesday, June 13-

We were taking a walk to the pond-
Rachel and Maya, Sir Beagle William and I -
and we found them!

Rather Rachel found them while I was busy searching the underside of the milkweed leaves for the tiny black specks of eggs.

Rachel found them-
two tiny Monarch butterfly caterpillars nestled in the cup of leaves surrounding the bud of the milkweed flower.

Many years ago I raised a Monarch and watched it fly away-
I've looked many summers since and never found another.

Now we have two.
We carried them home still cupped in their leaves and put them into a plastic cage that once housed our pet mice.

We'll need to walk back to the pond every other day or so and gather new leaves for them to feed on-
but it's not a long wait from caterpillar to chrysalis to butterflies are free....

A wonder filled promise for summer,
we are happy and excited and grateful to our new "friends"
 
here they are
all snug in their beds
for their first night
in their new home. 
 
Monarch Butterflies- Did you know?

>The longest recorded flight of a monarch butterfly is more than 3,000 miles.
The monarch can cover 80 miles a day when migrating.

>The monarch butterfly is believed to have reached some of the islands it has colonized by hanging into ship riggings.

>The monarch makes its migratory flight at speeds of up to 11 miles per hour. It travels 16 or 17 feet above the ground.

>Butterflies taste with their feet.

>Monarchs can be found from From Canada, south to Argentina, Hawaii, Fiji, the Marquesas, the Moluccas, Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand, and the Azores.

>Monarchs have striking, black and white stripes and yellow spots. Their bold coloration serves as a warning to predators that they are unpleasant to eat. The caterpillars feed on milkweed, and their bodies absorb its poisons. These poisons can cause severe vomiting in almost any animal that eats either a monarch caterpillar or an adult butterfly.

>The monarch butterfly is found throughout North and South America wherever the milkweed plant grows. The monarch larvae feed on various types of milkweed, which thrives in open spaces, as well as beside roads, along woodland edges, on empty lots, and in overgrazed pastures. Monarchs will thrive wherever milkweed grows.

>Despite it's paper-thin wings, the monarch butterfly is a powerful flyer with uncanny endurance, It is best known for it's annual migration, sometimes as far as 3,000 miles, through North America to California and Mexico. Monarch butterflies that breed in temperate parts of North America migrate so that their eggs and caterpillars will not be killed by prolonged winter frost. For this reason, the autumn Monarch broods are more likely to migrate than those that are hatched during the warm spring weather. The five million monarch butterflies from western North America head for a small number of sites scattered along the coast of California. The 100 million butterflies from the eastern part of the continent head south to Michoacan, in central Mexico.

>The crowded winter roosts of the monarch butterfly are one of the natural wonders of the world. In Mexico, the roosting sites of the eastern monarch butterfly consist of a small area of pine forest. As many as 15 million orange and black butterflies cover the trees at one time. The temperature of the roost should be just above freezing. If it is too cold, the butterflies will die; if it is too warm, they will awaken from hibernation and expend valuable energy.
 
one branch of a tree
where monarchs
are roosting!
I'll be photographing and journaling our adventure with the monarchs as we watch them transform from caterpillar to butterfly-
meanwhile, here are a couple of links for more information-
you may want to start a monarch family of your own!

This site (click here) has very complete instructions for finding, raising and releasing Monarch Butterflies

Monarch Watch (click here) is another great site packed with information
Thursday, June 15-
we went back to the pond to gather more milkweed leaves,
this time enough to put in the freezer to have on hand-
and while I was picking the leaves, there were two more caterpillars waiting in the sun.
Now there is a caterpillar for each of us-
examples of metamorphisis for a family in the midst of change.
(there is magic afoot...)

Maya and I have begun reading Eric Carle's "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" and I'm remembering the caterpillar unit I did with the toddler classroom-
we''ll be starting those projects (and sharing them here) as the great Monarch Adventure continues...