Wednesday, November 7, 2012

5 Reasons Monarch Butterflies are cooler than the British monarchs!

sammybutterflyThis week’s endangered species isn’t actually listed as endangered, but it’s a fascinating creature that’s currently threatened by several human activities.  It’s the Monarch Butterfly (Danaus plexippus).  Greenmomster’s earlier post on this fascinating insect can provide you with all of the basics about the species, as well as ways in which you can support their protection. 
So why are the monarch butterflies cooler than the British monarchs?  Now don’t get me wrong, I love those Brits (I bought scones and woke up before dawn to watch both royal weddings), but I think the monarch butterflies are even cooler than William, Kate, and the fun-loving Prince Harry.  Here’s why:
  • One monarch butterfly can fly the entire distance from Canada to its wintering grounds in Mexico – no map needed. 
  • When it’s time for a caterpillar to become an adult butterfly, it surrounds itself in a chrysalis, totally liquifies, and comes out a “beautiful butterfly” (to quote Heimlich from A Bugs Life (image from  I don’t know too many people, royals or not, who can successfully liquify themselves with no ill effects.
  • Monarch butterflies eat cardiac glycosides (poison to many animals) while they’re caterpillars, making the butterflies’ bodies poisonous to predators.
  • Monarch butterflies complete a transcontinental migration annually using 3 to 5 generations of butterflies!
  • The monarch butterfly has its own IMAX 3-D movie:  The Flight of the Butterflies!  I just saw this movie with my kids.  It’s no Transformers (it’s a very calm movie), but the story of the butterfly migration and the scientists who studied it is an inspiring one.  Check out the trailer  --


  1. Pretty amazing. When we lived in Tallahassee, FL, we drove two hours to a wildlife sanctuary on the coast where the monarchs were resting during their migration. It was incredible. I've never seen so many butterflies in one place!

  2. I'd love to see that sometime! What's the name of the wildlife sanctuary? We used to live close to the Pacific Grove, CA, monarch area when I was a kid. Someday I hope to visit those mountains in Mexico where most of them overwinter.