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The Magic of the Monarch Butterfly

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The Magic of the Monarch Butterfly

Monarch butterflies go through four stages during one life cycle, and through four generations in one year. The four stages of the monarch butterfly are the egg, the larva (caterpillar), the pupa (chrysalis), and the adult butterfly.  The four generations are four different butterflies going through these four stages during one year until it’s time to start over again with stage one and generation one.

February and March: The final generation of hibernating monarch butterflies wakes up to find a mate. They migrate north and east to find a place to lay their eggs (stage one and generation one of the new year for the monarch butterfly).

March and April:  The eggs are laid on milkweed plants. In about four days, baby caterpillars (larvae) hatch. The baby caterpillars eat the milkweed in order to grow. In about two weeks, the caterpillar is fully-grown and find a place to attach itself so it can start the process of metamorphosis. It attaches itself to a stem or leaf using silk and transforms into a chrysalis.  The chrysalis phase takes about 10 days. It looks like nothing is happening from the outside but it is a time of rapid change. The old body parts of the caterpillar are going through a transformation (metamorphosis) to become the beautiful parts that make up the butterfly that will emerge. The monarch butterfly will emerge from the pupa and fly away, feeding on flowers and enjoying the short life it has left, which is only about two to six weeks. This first generation monarch butterfly will die after laying eggs for generation two born in May and June, and then the third generation is born in July and August. These monarch butterflies will go through the same four stage life cycles the first generation did, dying two to six weeks after it becomes a beautiful monarch butterfly. In late fall the adult monarch butterflies (4th generation) migrate to warmer places like Texas, then Mexico, to complete their life cycle.

For the months of June and July the Kemper Center is featuring a fun and educational display on our Visual Guide  ‘Native Missouri Milkweed for Monarchs’.  And, on Wednesday  morning June 29th and July 27th Ronda Anson, Plant Doctor/Bug Expert, will be in the Center to answer butterfly questions. Drop in anytime between 10 am and noon.

A good resource for garden pests is the Advice, Tips and Resources  page found in Gardening Help. It has detailed information on all the pests that might decide to visit your garden.

Debbie Kirkpatrick, Kemper Horticulture Assistant

Posted in: Summer | Tags: butterflies , nature , pollinators | Comments (0) | View Count: (3617)
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