Monarch Butterfly (also called King Billy)
Here is the little bit of research I did before, during and after I wrote the story
Billy The Tree Climber
Notes: Scientific name for Monarch Butterfly is Danaus plexippus. Nick name, King Billy
Not only born as larvae & develop into a caterpillar but then transformed again, shed skin 4 times in life. The 5th time they shed skin & form chrysalis.
In cocoon (Chrysalis) they go from a liquid form into a butterfly in 10 days.
Looses all caterpillar legs gains 4 wings (4 inch wing span) and weigh less then 1/5 of an once. But only 6 legs.
Wings take few hours to harden before able to fly. 2,000 mile journey as far as Canada to Mexico. 50 miles a day. 2 month journey.
Cycle begins 3 generations back. They go from Mexico traveling North. It takes 3 generations to reach Canada or at least parts on Northern United States. Then the the 4th generation goes from there (Canada) traveling south to Mexico in one trip.
Mystery to it.
No one knows what triggers exodus. Never flew before, never been to where they are going. Conditions have to be just right, If Too hot can’t fly. Rain storm can be deadly. Fragile wings. Body form worse design to make this journey and yet many accomplish the impossible. Millions, hundreds of millions make it. No one knows how many don’t make it.
Amount of energy they need is compensated by soaring (gliding), not flap as much to conserve some energy & reach full potential. Circling in air flow would be easier, like birds to but, that won’t get them south.
Go over Miles of open water & shifting winds. Can’t see land on other side of great lakes. Sense of direction in wind. If blown off course must stop & wait. When wind shifts in their favor the fly again.
The are trying to reach 10,000 foot high mountain in Mexico, that is their goal.
Arrive during day of dead. Some believe butterfly represent Soul of departed ones so they leave fruit out for them.
Millions come through, all within same season, looking for water, they fly down streets, thru houses to get substances they need to survive their journey.
It wasn’t until 1975 scientist discovered migration was to 12 sites in Mountains in Mexico. Site offers conditions they need. They cluster on tree trunk. They find much needed heat from trees, bigger trees have more heat stored & given off warmth they need to keep their bodies from dieing prematurely.
Monarch is the only kind of butterfly that makes this trip.
They think their GPS maybe given by: Magnetic field of earth, internal clock or follow directions the sun gives. Scientists tag & try to follow, track & solve mystery but still a mystery to their God given instincts.
If start in wrong place, relocated, for example taken from Kansas and put in Washington, they re-orientate to get to correct place in Mexico. No telling how many don’t make it. Forest is key to keeping them alive, deforestation & logging threatened them. Mankind in general is a threat. Man is part of nature & unfortunately we are often destructive to things around us. Our Needs are often confused with want, greed and selfish desires.
Weather is also offers major obstacles.
There is no way to know how many don’t make it…
The number of monarchs making the 3,400-mile journey started to increase in 2014 from a serious drop in levels over the previous decade and last winter’s population had increased further still. This December, the butterflies covered 10 acres, compared to 2.8 acres in 2014 and a record low of 1.66 acres in 2013 (source -http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/travel_news/article-3662395/The-Mexican-mountain-Monarch-butterflies-gather-numbers-cover-10-ACRES-3-400-mile-journey-ve-earned-rest.html).
They fly same route and as closer to Mexico, in Mid. October a 50 miles wide flock can create a shadow. They fly same route and as closer to Mexico their numbers begin to show unity in thousands.
After 6 weeks have to cross desert & mountains, treacherous landmarks. Late October people welcome them as a blessing from God. Poor community seel good day to those who come to see butterflies gather all in one spot. 1st week in November kids watch & count.
The Story i wrote could be so much more than what I’ve written or could ever write.
After 2 month trip (Canada to Mexico) they safety reach their destination and people rejoice…how? FIREWORKS! WHAT? Have they lost their minds? Massive explosions! But the butterflies survive.
Clusters in trees & tightly knit groups for warmth. For 5 months they stay in groups on trees like a butterfly ocean, tapestry & canvas. In the Spring they open again. Some head back to Texas, stop to mate. Each female lays 300 – 400,or more, fertilized eggs. After that the adults die. Next generation fly further north & do same. Then, the 4th generation is born in Canada & that generation make trip back to Mexico.
Most do not die in Mexico they are just hibernating and will fly back north but just a small portion of the distance they flew down, only making it to Southwest U.S. to procreate the next generation.
For the story this inspired go to: 👉Billy The Tree Climber
Longer special explanation: