Today, November 13th, a Monarch will emerge from its chrysalis in a garden 2,800 miles north of its winter sanctuary. The thing is, Monarchs typically arrive in Mexico at harvest time and around Day of the Dead celebrations, or when Americans celebrate Halloween. In the language of the indigenous Purépecha peoples, the name for the Monarch is “Harvester” butterfly. Under the most ideal conditions, this Monarch won’t arrive until Christmastime.
Along the northern leg of his journey, he will find little or no nectar plants as we have had several nights of freezing temperatures. All the wildflowers and garden plants have finished blooming for the season. With little fortification, is it possible for Monarchs to fly great distances? Biologists look for this type of climate change mismatch to track how global warming is affecting wildlife. Butterflies can survive rain. The water beads up and drips off its wings, but snow and below freezing temperatures are fatal to Monarchs.
With a hope and a prayer, fair winds and good weather, perhaps our little intrepid Monarch will make it to sunny Mexico, or possibly, shorten his journey, and at least make Florida his home for the winter. Here’s hoping.
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I see these clear up past the 1st killing frost.
I have a favorite saying – “Nature loves redundancy.”. Redundancy in this instance means duplication, repetition, more than enough.
Just as a small sapling will be planted by Nature under the towering forest giants and live a suppressed existence in the shadows for hundreds of years, barely growing at all. When the towering giant comes crashing to the ground the little but old tree springs upward in to the sunlight, it’s greedy roots consuming the humus left behind.
Monarchs sort of follow a similar path. Even though there may be one or two main waves of southerly migration, there are always stragglers bringing up the rear, and laying eggs. These poor Monarchs do not stand a chance, but Nature still insists on them trying. Who knows, perhaps one day the winter temps won’t dip below freezing and these late ones will then have an edge over their migrating relatives?