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Monarch Butterflies

BY EARTHFIRST

The Monarch Butterfly is an astonishing creature, these insects travel over 2000 km from Canada to Mexico every year.

Unfortunately, climate change has already started to threaten and disrupt their annual migratory patterns. In March 2012 The World Wildlife Fund reported that the number of Monarch butterflies wintering dropped by nearly a third since 2011.

Abnormal patterns of drought and rainfall in the last year, has caused a reduction the amount of plant food available for caterpillars and also caused more adult butterflies to die. Which has resulted in fewer Monarchs migrating from Canada to Mexico over the winter.

Monarchs breed in Canada and every Autumn they head south to warmer weather guided by the suns orbit. Even on cloudy days they stay on track due to their internal biological compass that functions according to the movement of the sun.
At the end of October and the beginning of November, the butterflies settle into hibernation colonies in the mountains of central Mexico and spend the winter there in hibernation.

Monarchs are characterized by their brilliant orange-red wings, which feature black veins and white spots along the edges. The beautiful insects  go through four stages during one life cycle, and through four generations in one year. The four stages of the monarch butterfly life cycle are the egg, the larvae (caterpillar), the pupa (chrysalis), and the adult butterfly which only live for 4-6 weeks.

Milk weedHow can we help?

Whilst we may not be able to completely control climate change, we can help by not cutting down milkweed. Milkwed you see is where Monarch Butterflies lay their eggs on and caterpillars only eat Milkweed.

So if you have some in your garden, avoid getting rid of it.

Want another reason to keep Milkweed?
An article from Dermatology Times (Feb 2011), researchers in Brisbane, Australia claim the sap from the Milkweed plant has removed cancerous skin lesions from 41 out of 48 skin cancer patients. In the study there were 36 patients with a total of 48 non- melanoma lesions.


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