It is December here in Florida and time to set up the Christmas tree and decorate it. As I hang ornaments of cardinals, geese, chickadees and other birds on the tree’s branches, I catch a glimpse of an orange butterfly outside our living room window.
Peering out the window for a closer look, I was delighted to see it was a monarch butterfly. Anne and I were very concerned that we seldom saw one during this past summer, whereas in previous years they were plentiful. I grabbed my camera and went out to take some photos of it, when to my surprise there were 4 monarchs gliding to and fro alongside our home. Occasionally, one landed on what few flowers were still bloom to sip nectar. Their wings looked tattered.
I wondered how far these butterflies traveled. Did they fly along the Atlantic coast from New England to Florida? How much farther will they travel? Will they stay in southern Florida near Miami for the winter? Or will these delicate insects fly across the Gulf of Mexico to the mountainous Oyamel Forest in Mexico to overwinter? Will southern Florida be their destination? Will these Monarchs become year round Floridians or will they head north in the spring?
These are questions scientists are attempting to answer in our understanding of this amazing butterfly. Welcome monarchs; stay as long as you like!