Monarch Butterfly Migration

Are they here yet? Perhaps you have already spotted the beautiful Monarch butterfly caterpillar or even seen these butterflies in your yard. If not, then look for them any day! Monarch butterflies migrating through northeast Georgia.

The Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) is one of the more beautiful species of butterfly native to Georgia. Like all butterflies, Monarchs go through a 4-stage metamorphosis: the egg, the larvae (caterpillar), the pupa (chrysalis) and butterfly.

This butterfly’s most unique adaptation is its ability to migrate long distances. Unbelievably, it will take the Monarch three generations to migrate from Mexico to southern Canada, then one generation to migrate from southern Canada back to Mexico. Monarch butterflies have been recorded to travel up to 3,000 miles before reaching their wintering grounds!

In late September through early October thousands of Eastern Monarch butterflies will fly through northeast Georgia on their miraculous trek to central Mexico. The fourth generation, which we will see in our area, lives the longest as they determinedly trek across the country. These Monarchs will overwinter in Mexico and begin the process anew by laying eggs in early spring. Those eggs will become the first generation of the new cycle. 

The Monarch caterpillars feed exclusively on milkweed (Asclepias) and are often spotted eating the leaves of these toxic plants. When the caterpillars consume the milkweed, they too become toxic and that defensive characteristic is passed on to the adult butterfly.

Make Your Yard a Welcoming Spot

Our fall gardens and outdoor classrooms are important stopover spots for the butterflies in search of some nectar and a safe place to rest. Be on the lookout for the early arrivals and wish them well as they embark on their extraordinary transcontinental flight.

You can help the local Monarch populations by planting native milkweeds plants in your yard. Some native species local to this area ideal to plant include Butterflyweed, Clasping Milkweed, Swamp Milkweed, White Milkweed and Whorled Milkweed. Be aware, however, and do not plant Tropical or Common Milkweeds as they are non-native to Georgia. This species can harbor a parasite that could kill the Monarch butterfly before it can complete its full migration.

Learn More at Science Night, October 8

Elachee is delighted to welcome guest presenters Rose and Mark Barton to share they expertise and knowledge of the Monarch butterfly. At the October 8, 2019 Elachee Science Night at Recess Southern Gastro-Pub (downtown Gainesville), these educators and butterfly experts discuss this easily recognizable butterfly’s ecological role, its migration routes and lifecycle, along with tips on gardening to attract pollinators and more! Seating is limited and pre-registration is required. GET DETAILS

Elachee Nature Science Center is pleased to host this monthly Science Night, in downtown Gainesville, Ga., to engage the community in environmental education and discussion. This Elachee lifelong learning program is best suited for adults.