How Far do Monarch Butterflies Migrate?

Monarch butterflies are known as milkweed butterflies from the family Nymphalidae. The Monarch butterflies are one of the many species that were first described by Linnaeus in his Systema Naturae of 1758. These butterflies’ common name, the Monarch, was first published by Samuel H. Scudder in 1874. The Monarchs live up to their name by being one of the largest butterflies in the world. Aside from the name Monarch, these butterflies are given another nickname by Australians. This other name perfectly fits with the other character of these butterflies. Having been found in New Zealand during the 19th century and in Australia in 1871, these little wonders were lovingly called the Wanderer. Indeed these butterflies love to wander around different places of the world. In fact, the Monarchs or Wanderers are known for the vast and great migrations that they take flight into.

How far do monarch butterflies migrate? These monarch butterflies have populations spread across the North and South America. Little is still known about the migrations of the Monarchs from the South. What scientists and observers alike, do know about these magnificent insects is that, from the North America, they are divided into two basic migrating groups. The Eastern population is composed of around 300 million butterflies that migrate from as far as northern Nova Scotia. These eastern Monarchs travel to around 13 sites that cover 25 hectares (40 acres) before reaching the Neovolcanic Mountains of Mexico. The Western population lives in the west of Rocky Mountains and their migration stretches all the way to Baja, Mexico.

These monarch butterflies spend their winter hibernating in Mexico and also have some of the warmth from Southern California. The Eastern Monarchs migrate to Mexico and hibernate in its Oyamel Fir trees. The Western Monarchs find comfort in and around the Pacific Grove and also in Eucalyptus trees found in California. These Monarchs migrate for they cannot withstand the freezing temperatures of the Northern winter. Another reason why they migrate annually is the lack of larval food from plants that also have an annual cycle for production.

So exactly how far do monarch butterflies migrate? These monarchs are known to have flown nonstop for more than 600 kilometers over water, and their migration is noted to cover about 5,000 kilometers, which takes place, for 8 – 10 weeks. These monarch butterflies are the only insect known to migrate annually to a warmer climate that is 5,000 kilometers away.

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