The Monarch Butterflies Leave Wisconsin Soon
The days are getting shorter and the early signs of fall are setting in. Soon, the Wisconsin fall monarch migration will begin. Monarchs will make their journey to their winter homes over 6,000 miles away in South America and Mexico. Where they will sleep the winter away in comfort.
I have been spending plenty of time searching the open fields for fluttering butterflies. I had heard from other photographers and gardeners in the area that the monarch population was low this year. If you hang out near wildflower fields, you will see plenty.
Here comes nature nerd Nikki – kicking in when writing about monarchs. I have this geeky, nerd thing that kicks in when I talk about certain things. Cool nature things that I actually know something about brings this out in me 🙂
Wisconsin Fall Monarch Migration
Sometime between the first week of September and the first week of October monarchs leave Wisconsin and start their two-month journey to their winter homes. The time varies each year. Scientists are not exactly sure what tells the monarchs to start their migration trip. Some state it is the Earth’s magnetic field that gives them the hint it is time to leave and the position of the sun, in relationship to the sky.
This is a monarch butterfly resting on a wildflower found along a woodland path that borders a wildflower field.
The Last Generation is the Only Monarch to Make the Flight
Most monarch butterflies only live a few weeks. But the last generation of monarchs, born in mid-August, is the migratory generation. The shorter days and cooler temperatures of autumn prevent the butterflies from maturing enough to reproduce. This allows them to live for about eight to nine months – long enough to fly south for the winter and back to Wisconsin to reproduce the following summer.
Was hoping to see plenty of monarchs this year but I was a little scared because in this area the monarch caterpillars had plenty of aphids to compete with for their food source, milkweed. Everywhere I visited during late spring and summer the monarch caterpillars were battling aphids. Heavy populations of aphids.
Monarch Rescue Collection
The video above is a monarch caterpillar picking off aphids so that it can eat the milkweed plant. Despite all the aphids in this area, I did find plenty of monarch butterflies this fall.
Fluttering From Flower to Flower
Alas, I did find the monarchs fluttering from flower to flower, stocking up on nectar to make their flight South. August and September are my favorite months to go out and find butterflies and photograph them. They generally sit on the flowers a little longer for me to photograph. Plus, I know just how special this generation is! They have a long trip to complete. They had better stock up.
A monarch butterfly soaking up the afternoon sun on a sunflower.
When Will the Monarchs Return to Wisconsin?
You can expect to see the Wisconsin Fall Monarch Migration butterflies return to Wisconsin in May, next spring. They will lay their eggs and start their life cycle all over again. Nature is awesome!
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