Monarch Butterfly (Danaus plexippus)

A single Monarch butterfly goes through 4 stages in it’s lifecycle; 1- egg  2- larva/caterpillar  3- chrysalis/pupa and  4- butterfly.   The other lifecycle that Monarchs go through is that of their fascinating and somewhat mysterious migration involving 4 generations.  Stick with me while I attempt to explain this in the briefest and most simple terms.

Monarch butterfly Gen. 1 begins his life in Mexico where he starts the migration north.  On the way he mates and procreates.  His offspring, Gen. 2 continue the migration north, mate and procreate.  Gen. 3 flies northward, mates, procreates.  Finally we have Gen. 4!  This fourth generation Monarch reaches southern Canada around August where he feeds off of the Milkweed plant and does not procreate in order to build up energy.  Gen. 4 now begins southward, making the 2 month journey back to Mexico to the very same trees which his great, great grandfather (Gen. 1) emerged and began the process four generations and one year earlier.  It’s still a mystery as to how this fourth generation Monarch knows where to go to complete this four generation lifecycle.

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