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Milkweed Is Essential for Monarch Butterflies' Survival

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Each year in late summer and early fall, the monarch butterflies start their migration from the northern parts of the United States and Canada. Most of them fly down toward the Sierra Madre Mountains in Mexico, but not all. Some take other routes, heading toward Florida instead, or the California coast.

At times their ultimate destination may be decided by wind patterns. These black and yellow butterflies can travel as far as 50-100 miles a day, and it can take them as long as two months to complete their southward trek.

Those who successfully make it down south will stay there over the winter, and then head back north again in the spring. As explained in the featured article:1

"During the journey north, monarchs produce four generations. So, a butterfly might get as far as Texas, for example, where it lays eggs and dies. The next generation might get as far as Kansas, the one after that, Minnesota.

In the fall, the migration south begins again. The butterflies in the fourth generation live eight or nine months and can make it as far south as Mexico."

A large swath of this migratory path runs through the American Corn Belt, where most of the crops grown are now genetically engineered and heavily doused with Roundup. Earlier this year, a number of media reports brought attention to the urgent plight of the monarch butterfly, which is nearing extinction unless action is taken to protect critical plant life, and limits set on the use of toxic agricultural chemicals.

Migrating monarchs are truly amazing. It takes three generations for the migrating monarchs in Mexico to reach the upper US. Then the fourth generation flies back over 2000 miles back to Mexico to start the process all over again.       
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