Featured in: Bugs and Animals on Flowers in Macro (Oct., 2011)
These super vibrant migration-bound Monarch butterflies were busy enjoying the New England Asters in Toronto’s High Park last week… the migratory journey of the Monarch butterfly being one of the most fascinating of nature’s mysteries. Waves of Monarchs head southward from Ontario in the autumn months to a previously unknown destination; however, in 1975, Dr. Fred Urquhart of the University of Toronto, through wing-tagging of our Monarchs, was led to the evergreen forests of south-central Mexico and to the Monarchs he and his team had tagged.
Tens of millions of these Monarchs arrive at their winter homes in Mexico every autumn. Given the cold temperatures, the monarchs become dormant and survive via their previously stored energy not becoming active again until February of the following year – when the drive to reproduce and begin their migration journey, yet again, carries them northward. During this 3,000 kilometer journey, eggs are laid on new milkweed and the adult dies shortly thereafter. Amazingly, it is the generation that is produced between Mexico and Ontario that return to Ontario in vast numbers in the early summer.
The ensuing summer months in Ontario will result in two or three generations of Monarchs with the life cycle from egg to adult taking just 30 to 45 days. The fascinating aspect is that the generations that emerge in the late summer and early autumn weeks are miraculously triggered to become migratory… and it all starts all over again.
© KatMagic Photography 2011
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