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Astonishing Creatures: the Monarch Migration LbNA #21840

Plant date:Apr 30, 2006
Planted by:lisascenic
Found by: Nature Hikers
Last found:May 27, 2013
Last edited:Apr 30, 2006
If you consider a butterfly, one of first words that may spring to mind is “fragile,” but every fall the Monarch Butterflies of North America undertake a journey that seems almost miraculous, and that is unique among all butterfly species, worldwide. In California, the Monarchs that overwinter in our eucalyptus trees come from anywhere West of the Rocky Mountains. The Eastern Monarch Butterflies travel up to three thousand miles to overwinter in the mountains of Mexico.

Because of the amazing life cycle of the Monarch Butterfly, the individual butterflies that make this journey south this year will be the great-great-(and possibly even great-) grandparents of the butterflies that will travel south next year to overwinter in the exact same trees.

Time travel? Not in this case.

While the fall Monarch Butterflies who make the huge southbound migration live eight or nine months, the summer Monarchs only live for three to five weeks. Each generation of these butterflies accomplish only part of the northbound migration.

So the fact that the butterflies know how to make this journey is, to my mind, a mystery and a miracle.

In the Bay Area, one can see overwintering Monarch Butterflies at the Ardenwood Historic Farm in Fremont. During migration season, the park presents fascinating programs about the Monarch.

Of course, there are loads of other fun things to do at this historic farm at all seasons of the year.

After you’ve strolled the grounds, admired the peacocks and hung out with the sheep and goats, wander on over to the gazebo in front of the Patterson Farmhouse. Locate the electrical conduit on the post of the gazebo, and follow where it emerges near the handicapped ramp

For more on the monarchs:

And on Ardenwood:

Be aware, as I foolishly wasn't, that Ardenwood's hours are Tuesday-Sunday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

So sorry to my would-be first finders!!!