Our beautiful backyard spring and summer visitor, the Monarch Butterfly, is departing now for warmer climes away from the cold of winter.
As the weather gets colder, the Monarch Butterfly begins its annual migration, literally millions leave the Eastern United states for a winter spent in Florida or Mexico. For some it is a journey of over 2,500 miles.
Remarkably, without any guidance, these butterflies know how, when and where to migrate, sometimes traveling as much as 80 miles a day in a journey that lasts about two months.
These late summer or early fall monarchs are not the same ones that arrived in the spring. In fact, they are the fourth generation as early butterflies live only up to six weeks, laying their eggs for the next generation before they die.
However, in a remarkable example of evolution, these fourth generation Monarch Butterflies are different. They can live up to nine months, long enough to migrate south before winter and return in the spring, where the cycle begins all over again.
On their way back when winter ends, not all of the butterflies will make it north. Some stop along the way and lay eggs that breed new Monarch Butterflies to trek northward.
Greenbelt is grateful to several professional and staff photographers whose work is featured prominently within our website.
Thank you Jerry Monkman / ecophotography.com, Lynne Holton, Kindra Clineff, Adrian Scholes and John Raleigh.