We've had a lot of rain this week. On Tuesday morning right around 8am we were hit with some mighty stormy weather. Unfortunately for about 50 people in Western Tennessee earlier in the day, it proved fatal. This time of year can be unpredictable in these parts.
Wednesday night was Adventureres. I was the worship leader and Busy Bee teacher this week. We studied about butterflies and had to cover quite a lot in the hour alloted us for the class. Here is the interesting story of the Monarch butterfly's life here in North America. I'll mention the cycle of the eastern Monarchs which overwinter in Mexico just west of Mexico City.
We'll start in winter when thousands of them are in the same little area, clinging to tree trunks, branches and leaves. They are in a hibernating state at this time. In Feb/Mar, they start to awaken, find mates and after mating, fly northeast into the States and lay their eggs in Mar/Apr on the underside of milkweed plants. These butterflies then die - they've lived a total of 6-8 months. Their eggs hatch after 3-6 days, grow 2000X bigger as caterpillars/larva for 7-17 days, form a chrysalis and emerge another 2 or so weeks later as the adult Monarch. This is the "first generation".
These butterflies then continue the long trek northeast-wise, laying their eggs in Apr/May. The first generation dies after 2-6 weeks. The 2nd generation then emerges and continues the flight. They lay their eggs in May/June/July (the 3rd generation), and then die themselves. By now, they're probably more than half way across the States, heading east. The 3rd generation makes it all the way to New York/Maine and the northeast. (I don't know exact, specific locations, and remember I'm only talking about the ones that go to the east - others migrate all over the States). They lay their eggs in July/August/Sep? and then also die after several weeks. When this 4th generation emerges, they soon start the incredible 3000 mile journey, going back in a southwesterly direction across North America, arriving 2 months later at the EXACT location their great great grandparents started from 6 or 7 months previously. They drink a lot of nectar on the way, arriving fatter than when they left the Northeast. This fat helps them survive the long winter.
How they know exactly where to go is still a mystery. Maybe they release pheromones along the way, I don't know! Of course the TIMES of the migrations may vary somewhat due to various weather conditions. Sometimes they don't arrive in the northeast til Aug/Sep due to storms or other conditions.
In Mexico they hibernate as adults for 6-8 months before starting the whole amazing journey cycle again. So, next time you in the States see a Monarch butterfly flitting seemingly aimlessly about the garden, remember that you're watching an amazing participant in one of the most fascinating dramas of the animal world.(dramatic music...)
Your children might enjoy this little photo book about the life cycle of the Monarch, and from this link, one could go to a lot more interesting facts about the Monarchs.
Enjoy the Sabbath, and your coming week!