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In all the world, no butterflies migrate like the monarchs of North America. They travel up to three-thousand miles twice a year: south in the fall and north in the spring. To avoid the long, cold northern winters, monarchs west of the Rocky Mountains winter along the California coast. Those east of the Rockies fly south to the mountain forests of Mexico. Unlike migrating birds and whales, however, individual monarchs only make the round-trip once. It is their great-grandchildren that return south the following fall.
Children’s Butterfly Site
“Despite their small size, butterflies and moths are some of the world’s most wondrous animals. Their beauty, seemingly miraculous metamorphosis, and apparently carefree flight all spark our imaginations.” Entomologist Dr. Paul Opler answers children’s questions about butterflies (“How do butterflies go to the bathroom?”) and tells the butterfly life cycle story through click-and-print coloring pages. Be sure to visit the photo gallery.
Journey South 2000: Monarch Butterfly
The Journey South project tracks the fall monarch migration by collecting reports of the first sightings of southbound monarch butterflies. Each week a migration map will be produced, showing a “live” snapshot of the migration in progress. Register now to become a “news reporter” and receive daily updates, challenge questions and online lesson plans. Registration is free, and only registered participants can report their sightings. Printed materials are available for a nominal fee.
The World Wildlife Fund Canada has created an outstanding educational resource that includes a Monarch Migration Game. Try to lead your monarch safely south to its wintering home. Click on the correct route, and learn a little about the Monarchs along the way. Click on the wrong route, and learn of the hazards and obstacles faced by the monarchs. Good luck, and remember Canada’s eastern and western monarchs winter in different destinations.
Monarch Watch is a cooperative study of the monarch’s fall migration to promote science education in primary and secondary schools. Last fall more than 40,000 students in thirty-nine states and three Canadian provinces tagged and studied more than 49,000 Monarchs. In addition to information on joining the Watch, you’ll find lots to learn about the monarch, and many ideas for classroom projects.
Monica the Monarch
With large, crisp photographs, ninth-grader Shalynn Benz tells the story of how she found Monica, the monarch caterpillar, resting on a milkweed leaf and raised her to be a butterfly. “Sometime in October or early November when the weather gets cold the monarchs will start their journey to thirteen roosting sites to the west of Mexico City, Mexico. It’s a 2,000 mile journey. Here they will hang out during the winter and in the spring they will find a partner and mate. The females will lay their eggs on milkweed and the process will start again.” Next summer, Shalynn hopes to be raising Monica’s great-grandchildren.