|[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note|
|By this time of the year tens of thousands of monarch butterflies have arrived to hibernate in the eucalyptus groves on the California Coast. We went to such a grove in the Natural Bridges State Beach and watched the orange confetti in the air and on the leaves of the trees. It was quite a sight! |
The Migration of the Monarch Butterfly (Danaus plexippus)
The Monarch Butterfly is a widespread tropical insect that ranges as far north as Canada. It cannot withstand freezing winter temperatures nor can it last in the high extremes of summer's heat. To survive, the Monarch travels to safe stayover sites that are neither too cold nor too warm in what may be the most unique migration in nature.
The Monarchs hatched from the matings at the Pacific Grove site (California) are capable of mating as soon as they emerge from the chrysalis. They fly north as the lands warm up, to Oregon. They lay their eggs for the next generation and die, having lived only around four to six weeks. The Oregon hatched Monarchs, capable of mating with a short life span will fly further north to Washington, lay eggs and die once more. The Washington generation moves the farthest north into Canada, where the last milkweed is growing, usually within 100 miles of the US-Canadian border. Here they lay the last eggs of the summer.
Why is this migration so unique?
In many species, such as birds and whales, the same individuals travel the same routes year after year. However, the Monarchs that migrate to Pacific Grove have never been here before. In fact, it was the great-great-grandparents of these Monarchs from Canada who left Pacific Grove four generations before!
Monarchs east of the Rocky Mountains spend the winters in high mountains in central Mexico. Monarchs west of the Rocky Mountains come to Pacific Grove and several other locations on the central California coast. Overwintering sites are found from just north of the San Francisco Bay Area to as far south as San Diego and Baja, California. En route, they may travel as far as 2,500 miles, covering perhaps a hundred miles a day, and flying as high as 10,000 feet. This is a mighty achievement for a creature much smaller and more fragile than the tiniest bird!
How do they find their way?
Scientists think that the Monarchs may rely on the Earth's magnetic field, the position of the sun and the polorization of the sun's rays. These butterflies, hatched around the beginning of September, on the most northern milkweeds in Canada, with nothing but instinct to guide them, take five to six weeks to travel to Pacific Grove. We begin to see them arriving during the first two weeks of October. They go immediately to the locations in town where their ancestors were sheltered the previous year. It is a mystery how these new Monarchs know where they should spend the winter.
petrudamsa, coasties, Dave, scottevers7, marhowie, wallhalla15, magiqa has marked this note useful
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What a super shot. I have never seen so many Monarchs in one place. Well done on sharing this amazing sight.
That mustve been some show to witness, talk about a "winged migration" , ehh ? TFS, Radu
- [2005-11-20 5:37]
I have always heard, but have never seen.
What a gathering of these beautiful creatures.
An excellent educational note also.
WOW! That is an amazing sight. I have only witnessed this on TV, and hope one day to see and photograph it for myself. I love this shot! Probably something a photograph really can not do justice too. It must be observed in person. But, this is a beautiful shot, with great notes. Well done!
Very interesting capture and note Manyee. I've seen this migation in photos and documentaries before..Hope to someday see it in person as you have here. Well done.
Wow! Manyee, thatīs a interesting picture.
A very nice capture. Composition is great and good colours too. A good one, very well done.
Thanks for sharing.
Great picture. Never knew that this existed. Nice to see.
Thanks for sharing.
Very cool shot. Love it.
- [2005-12-03 12:31]
What a picture! Amazing! I have never seen anything like it!
- [2006-08-22 15:37]
Dear Manyee, what a fantastic view! It is certainly a good picture, but the unusual moment is realy special. I wish I was there! Great POV and I loved the info about the Monarch. Great job!