(ABC4) – Monarchs that spend the winter in the mountains of central Mexico are the final generation of a cycle that begins anew each year, and Friday celebrates their existence.
On February 5, environmentalists and insect enthusiasts all around the globe honor monarchs on National Western Monarch Butterfly Day.
According to World Wildlife Fund, the monarch butterfly is known by scientists as Danaus plexippus, which in Greek literally means “sleepy transformation.” The name evokes the species’ ability to hibernate and metamorphize.
Monarch butterflies tend to travel between 1,200 and 2,800 miles or more from the United States and Canada to central Mexican forests to fulfill their marvelous migratory phenomenon.
“It is #WesternMonarchButterflyDay! Our friends at the Bureau of Land Management – California will soon say goodbye to these transient travelers, as they reside on the California coast between October and March,” shares Bureau of Land Management – Utah. “These delicate winged insects migrate from the United States and Canada to central Mexico and travel between 1,200 and 2,800 miles!”
Adult monarch butterflies possess two pairs of brilliant orange-red wings, featuring black veins and white spots along the edges. Males, who possess distinguishing black dots along the veins of their wings, are slightly bigger than females.
“More than beautiful, monarch butterflies contribute to the health of the planet. Butterflies — and other pollinators like birds, bats, and bees — are vital to creating and maintaining the habitats that many animals rely on for food and shelter,” informs the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.
Each adult butterfly lives only about four to five weeks.
“If you would like to help monarchs in your own yard, you can very easily by making sure you have nectar-rich flowering plants from spring through the fall. Not only will these benefit monarchs, but you’ll be helping native bumblebees in Utah that also are declining,” adds DWR.
According to DWR, if you plant milkweed in your yard, you might be lucky enough to see monarchs stop and breed.
“While there are several varieties of milkweed in Utah, the two most common are Showy and Swamp milkweeds. You may be able to find seeds from these plants near your house along streams or in wet areas, or if you prefer, it’s possible to find the seeds for sale.” DWR shares. “You can also talk to your local native plant nursery about carrying milkweeds as part of their inventory.”
If you are interested in stopping the monarch decline, check out the Monarch Conservation in Utah.