12 Monarch butterflies eclosed in my garage nursery this morning, but as it was stormy all day, I waited until late afternoon to release them, when the shone beautifully in the northwestern sky on the longest day of the year. How appropriate for the summer solstice here in the Northern Hemisphere.
The monarch butterfly or simply monarch is a milkweed butterfly in the family Nymphalidae.Other common names depending on region include milkweed, common tiger, wanderer, and black veined brown.It may be the most familiar North American butterfly, and is considered an iconic pollinator species.Its wings feature an easily recognizable black, orange, and white pattern, with a wingspan of 8.9–10.2 cm (3 1⁄2–4 in) The viceroy butterfly is similar in color and pattern, but is markedly smaller and has an extra black stripe across each hindwing.
The monarch butterfly migration is one of nature’s greatest events. This orange-winged wonder travels up to 4,500 km from all over North America to spend the winter hanging from oyamel fir trees in central Mexico’s mountain forests. I got to go there. Seeing tens of millions of butterflies dangling from the treetops is a truly breathtaking sight. But how does an animal with a brain the size of a poppy seed navigate to this one special place, especially since the last monarchs to make the trip lived 4 or 5 generations earlier?
How many butterflies does it take to make a noise in the woods? A few million. Watch (and listen!) as these monarchs put on a show at their overwintering site in Mexico. Follow on Instagram @phil_torres for more.
This was filmed while leading a trip to visit the monarch migration with Atlas Obscura.
Every year we plant milkweed in hopes of attracting Monarch Butterflies. This year we have been very successful in attracting these butterflies and rearing their young from small caterpillar to adult! In this video, we show you the process of how we gather these caterpillars and successfully rear them indoors. Bringing them inside greatly increases the chance that the caterpillars make it to adulthood. Only around 10% of the caterpillars reach adulthood in the wild because of predators such as parasitoids. With the population of Monarch butterflies in decline, it is crucial to try to get as many of these young caterpillars to adulthood.