RIO GRANDE VALLEY, Texas – Fluttering thru the Rio Grande Valley, Monarch butterflies are beginning to arrive as they wing it to their traditional wintering grounds in the highlands of Mexico.
The strikingly elegant butterflies with richly hued orange wings rimmed in satiny black glisten like stained glass and are regarded by some as the most beautiful butterfly…hence the name monarch.
The monarch is unique as it is the only known butterfly species to complete a round trip migration of approximately 3,000 miles, some traveling from Canada to Mexico. However, no one monarch ever makes the entire spring and fall migration.
A typical monarch lives just a few weeks. While spring and summer monarchs are able to reproduce soon after emergence, fall monarchs go into a state of reproductive diapause, and will not breed until the coming spring.
Rather than mating, fall monarchs pour all their energy into their strenuous flight south. These migrating monarchs are known as the Methuselah generation for their extended lifespan.
Navigating by the magnetic pull of earth, position of the sun and other directional aids they somehow miraculously flutter to a winter home they have never seen.
Over the past 25 years, monarch numbers have plunged dramatically by approximately 90%, hovering to a record low of some 35 million in recent years.
However, after years of sharp decline, their numbers rebounded dramatically this past winter as approximately 300 million monarchs over wintered in Mexcio.
Favorable weather conditions, efforts to curb the usage of harmful pesticides and herbicides along with habitat protection are credited with this temporary upsurge in monarch numbers.
While this year’s fall migration has yet to be fully documented, researchers are cautiously optimistic regarding the monarchs continuing recovery.
You can do your part by planting native milkweed in your yard to help save the monarch of butterflies.