I know I have already discussed the Monarch Butterfly in recent Wild Facts but at the request of one of my readers, I have decided to do another post on them. Can I help it if monarch butterflies have numerous interesting facts about them?!?
In the previous monarch Wild Fact we learned that these tiny little butterflies fly south for the winter (with the recent snow on the ground, I wish I had flown south too). Let’s fast forward to their spring migration back north. Sweet, it is spring time already! This generation of monarch’s surviving from last summer knows there time is almost up so they need to lay eggs quickly. During that northward migration, the monarch butterfly will seek out it’s number one choice for egg deposition. This of course is none other than the Milkweed plant. I know one of my readers is aware of milkweed and has even had the opportunity to witness a monarch laying its eggs on this incredible plant. So now, I ask the question, what is so important about the milkweed that the monarch must lay it eggs on this one particular type of plant? Any of you flower people out there will know that milkweed contain a juice that is bitter and poisonous. This is important because the monarch larvae (caterpillars) have evolved to be able to withstand this poisonous substance. But this isn’t the interesting part! The really cool part is the fact that since the caterpillar has been feeding on this poisonous and bitter plant throughout its life stage, it becomes poisonous and bitter as well. This has a huge advantage for the monarch butterfly because if any predator such as a bird tries eating the caterpillar or the butterfly it will leave an awful taste in its mouth and will learn not to eat those disgusting insects again (kind of like kids with brussel sprouts). Eventually, predators realize that the bright colours of the monarch butterfly issue a warning that they taste awful so don’t bother sampling them! This pretty little plant helps protect the monarch throughout all of its life stages.
Monarch Butterfly Fast Fact: A monarch caterpillar will grow as much as 2700 times its original size in just two weeks. If a human baby did this it would be about the size of a bus in the same amount of time. Imagine how much pablum that baby would need!