From winter homes in Mexico
North and east they fly,
To southern fields of Canada
With spring time, spreading wide.
Reverse the route in diapause
As summer drifts away.
Decreasing light and spreading chill
Sends them on their way.
They reappear to greet the Dead
On their special Day,
Arriving with the harvest corn
For a winter’s stay.
No single Monarch Butterfly
Can complete the trip.
Five generations does it take
For voyaging like this.
Butterflies that lay their eggs,
Fly on, their duty done.
Larva feed, transmogrify,
To follow south, the sun.
Not all their kith and kin
Migrate far and fast.
As herbicides destroy their food
We may record the last.
By Kate Rauner
The Monarch butterfly: “starting in September and October, eastern/northeastern populations migrate from southern Canada and the United States to overwintering sites in central Mexico where they arrive around November. They start the return trip in March, arriving around July.” The population moves, but no single butterfly makes the entire journey. Wikipedia-Monarch Butterfly They have no memory, no parents to guide them, but they return to Mexico.
There are other populations of Monarchs, but none that produce a migration like this, “one of the most spectacular natural phenomena in the world.” Wikipedia-Brower1977
Only ten percent as many butterflies return to Mexico as twenty years ago. Their rapidly declining numbers are attributed in large part to herbicides like Roundup killing off their food – milkweed. statesmantribune
American gardeners can provide the necessary habitat – see monarchwatch.
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