Monarch butterflies are known for their long migrations from Canada to Mexico, and their toxic flavor. The taste that repels predators comes from the food of the caterpillar – milkweed.
The migration of Monarchs is actually completed in more than one generation’s lifespan. Deforestation in the Mexican range has greatly depleted the numbers of these pretty fliers, and studies are on-going to try to help Monarchs survive in the long term. They can be seen almost anywhere (woods, fields, city streets, even over the ocean) as they migrate, and tagging programs are carried out in a number of locations.
The caterpillars are this handsome white, yellow and black striped pattern which is thought to warn away birds and other predators seeking a tasty meal. In our locale, predatory wasps take quite a toll on them, and many folks collect them, raise them on milkweed, then release them when they morph into butterflies.
This picture was taken July 17, 2008, in Green Lane, PA, on milkweed.
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