Monarchs on the Move: A Northern Migration

Monarch butterflies live in the south all winter long. They overwinter there. The arrival of spring signals winter's departure. It signals another departure as well. It is time for the monarchs to leave. Every February or March, after a long winter's rest, the monarchs must begin their journey north. But this trip is very different from the massive migration that sent them south. This time each monarch will head towards home alone. But none of them will make it. Instead, their offspring will complete the journey for them.

Early each spring male and female monarchs mate. Some mate before leaving their overwintering site. Others mate during their journey. After mating, a female must find a place to lay her eggs. As she flies north she will search for a milkweed plant. Once she finds one, she will lay her eggs on the underside of the leaves. Then the mother monarch dies.

After four to nine days, caterpillars emerge from the laid eggs. They hatch and eat and grow. Eventually each caterpillar creates a chrysalis. Inside its secret home, the caterpillar undergoes a wonderful change. After two weeks, the once striped caterpillar will emerge as a beautiful monarch butterfly! .....

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