Good news! We were so pleased to have had a handful of healthy and happy Monarchs emerge from their chrysalis. But because we had so few, we quickly released them in the Park so that they could mate, lay eggs, and allow their young to become an integral part of the migration process. Unfortunately, due to the loss of many of our caterpillars we were unable to move forward with our release party. We are optimistic that next year will yield better results!
Monarch Butterfly migration is a spectacular process, but as you may know it poses many challenges to these delicate insects. The fall generation of Monarchs from Connecticut and locations East of the Rockies will spend their winter hibernating in a micro-climate, or specialized environment, in Oyamel Fir Trees located in parts of Mexico. Monarchs West of the Rocky Mountains will generally travel to Southern California where they can hibernate in a similar climate created by Eucalyptus Trees. The specialized zone is created by keeping rain out and heat in. Although it is a different group of Monarchs every winter season, they still choose the same trees to migrate to each year.
The journey that these creatures take is unique to their class, no other insect can travel that far. One obstacle is the weather. If it is too cold they get sluggish and cannot flap their wings. Too hot and they have to stop flying so that they do not overheat. Often they have to stop for water and nectar, which puts them in danger if any enemies are lurking around. A rainstorm can also be deadly. But many do survive the two month journey and reach the safety of these trees! When all of the butterflies over the range of a few days they huddle together in clusters and hang onto the trees for warmth and safety through the season.