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The epic journey of the Monarch Butterfly

The majestic monarch butterflies know instinctively when it’s time to come down to Mexico. Environmental clues include frostbitten eyeballs, runny proboscis and hailstone leg mutilations. All these signs say: Pack up some protein bars and head south for the winter.

Their trip uses a combination of air currents, thermals and exploding Chinese balloons to propel them from one stop to the next, reproducing at each stop, with the offspring taking off like a baton race – or, in another way to say it, from one Motel 6 to another  – for their final arrival in Mexico. The end of the flight is achieved by “great-great-grandchildren,” the different generations making their journey over thousands of miles.

Unlike other butterflies that can “overwinter” as larvae, pupae and asylum seekers, monarchs leaving colder climes lay hundreds of eggs which metamorphize into larvae and pupae stages in warmer climes, taking about six weeks per stop to become full adults, before joining the insect mile-high club.

In Mexico, the monarchs’ Gen Z reach their second home in the Sierra Madre Mountains between October and late March. Here at Lakeside, we occasionally see a flurry of the more curious setting a while trying to figure out why there are cement dust-clouds everywhere.

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