Experience the magical metamorphosis of the Monarch Butterfly Live!
Brought to you by Ashank Singh.
About the butterflies:
Scientific name: Danaus plexippus
During the spring and summer months, the Monarch Butterfly's habitat includes open fields and meadows with milkweed. In the winter months, Monarchs can be found roosting in the eucalyptus groves of Northern California and at high altitude pine tree groves in the Sierra Madre Oriental Mountains of Northeastern Mexico.
Monarchs undergo a process called complete metamorphosis, or the complete transformation from an immature form to the adult form. There are four stages in a Monarch’s life cycle. These stages are: egg, caterpillar, chrysalis, and butterfly.
Eggs are very tiny and are as small as the tip of a safety pin. Caterpillars have skin that has a yellow and black striped pattern. Fully grown, these caterpillars can be as large as 3 inches. The chrysalis is jade in color with a few gold flakes and measures 1.5 inches. In around 10- 14 days the chrysalis hatches into a beautiful orange and black butterfly. As a butterfly, Monarchs have a wing span of 3- 4 inches. It is in this stage that they migrate nearly 3,000 miles to roost in the forests of Mexico.
The diet of a Monarch varies in each stage of its life.
As a caterpillar, Monarchs eat the poisonous leaves of milkweed plants (genus asclepias). The cardiac glycosides in the leaves of the plants make them extremely poisonous. Consuming these leaves makes the caterpillars poisonous. This makes Monarchs unpalatable.
In the chrysalis stage, the Monarch does not consume anything. It uses the energy gained during the larval stage to grow and sustain itself. The poison gained in the caterpillar stage is never lost.
As an adult, Monarchs lack jaws. Therefore the adult butterfly obtains food by the means of a proboscis. The proboscis is like a straw and only allows liquid food into the body. Monarchs like drinking water from puddles, nectar from flowers and juice from fruits. In captivity, they often drink sugar water, and fruit juices.
Their migration can start off as far as the southern tip of Canada. Weighing less than an ounce, powered only by nectar and body fat acquired during the caterpillar stage, these butterflies fly hundreds of miles each day. In three months they reach the pine tree groves of Central Mexico or the coastline of California where they roost in large numbers. In the process, these butterflies are sheltered from rain, snow, and hail. When the weather warms and spring arrives, the next generation of Monarchs completes the journey north. This is a ritual followed each year by Monarchs. No one knows how Monarchs perform such a feat. This is a phenomena that baffles scientists till this date. Though current research suggests that Monarchs process celestial information coupled with cues from the electromagnetic field of the Earth, no one knows how these creatures perform such an act consistently year after year. A Monarch's migration is truly one of nature's unsolved mysteries.
Despite being such beautiful creatures, Monarchs are under increasing threat. The continued use of pesticides and herbicides is killing Monarchs and milkweed alike. To make matters worse, illegal logging operations in the Sierra Madre mountains are destroying the forests where they roost at an alarming rate. With the hard work of passionate people, the Monarch population has risen. Though not an endangered species, Monarchs are still threatened and need our help. By not using pesticides in our gardens and growing milkweed, we can cherish the magic of Monarchs for generations to come.
Basic info about the Camera Stream:
Camera Location: Fremont, California, United States
Time Zone: PDT